Alcohol and Pregnancy Level
Babor (2003) notes that alcohol is a teratogen. Teratogenic is a substance known to be harmful to human development. Alcohol crosses the placenta to the baby. When drinking alcohol, so does the baby. Because the baby is so small, alcohol breaks down much more slowly; this causes the alcohol to stay in the baby’s blood much longer than in the mother’s blood. This can result in irreversible harmful effects on the baby’s development. All drinks that contain alcohol can be harmful to babies. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to consume while pregnant.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause various physical and mental congenital disabilities. The term “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” (FASDs) describes the many problems associated with exposure to alcohol before birth. Each year in the United States, up to 40,000 babies are born with FASD.
Although many women know that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause congenital disabilities, many do not realize that moderate or light drinking may also harm the fetus. No level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe. Pregnant women do not drink alcohol, including beer, wine, wine coolers, and liquor, throughout their pregnancy and while nursing. In addition, because women often do not know they are pregnant for a few months, women who may be pregnant or those who are attempting to become pregnant should not drink alcohol (Babor, 2003)
Thombs (1999) suggests that when a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes through the placenta to her fetus. In the fetus’s immature body, alcohol is broken down much more slowly than in an adult’s body. As a result, the alcohol level in the baby’s blood can be higher and remain elevated longer than in the mother’s blood. This sometimes causes the baby to suffer lifelong damage. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASDs, with effects that range from mild to severe. These effects include mental retardation; learning, emotional, and behavioral problems; and defects involving the heart, face, and other organs. The most severe of these effects is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a combination of physical and mental congenital disabilities.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth (before 37 completed weeks). Studies also suggest that drinking during pregnancy may contribute to stillbirth. A 2008 Danish study found that women who binge drink three or more times during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy had a 56 percent greater risk for stillbirth than women who did not binge drink. Another 2008 study found that women with five or more drinks a week were 70 percent more likely to have a stillborn baby than non-drinking women, Thombs (1999).
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1999), pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Pregnant women who think they have should be aware of the serious and negative effects of alcohol on the development of the baby (fetus). In the United States, prenatal alcohol exposure is the most common cause of congenital disabilities. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy causes damage to the brain and affects the child’s behavior; these effects can be prevented by 100 percent.
Galanter (2005) affirms that thousands of children are born with the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol. While many people drink, alcohol is poisonous to the child that grows inside the womb. The ingestion of even an alcoholic beverage per day during pregnancy exposes the baby in desarrrollo to the risk of serious congenital disabilities. A small amount of alcohol can cause permanent damage to the child. The use of alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious problems in children and adolescents: Infants may show slow growth and developmental delay, unusual facial features, irritability, brain and neurological disorders, mental retardation, and problems with their attachment to their fathers.
Drixler (2001) points out that kids and school-age children may have problems with learning, low tolerance for frustration, inadequate social boundaries, and difficulty reading. Teenagers can have continuous learning problems, depression, anxiety, and inappropriate sexual behavior. Fetal Alcohol Problems (AFP) describes the negative effects and problems caused by drinking alcohol while pregnant. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (SFA) is a more specific group of symptoms caused by drinking alcohol while pregnant. A child is diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (SFA) with prenatal alcohol exposure and has Facial deformities, Slow and retarded development, and Brain and neurological problems.
A pediatrician, child, adolescent psychiatrist, or other clinical experience must carefully evaluate children suspected of SFA. Fetal alcohol exposure is often overlooked as the cause of the problems in the child’s behavior. The effects of alcohol on the developing brain during pregnancy are not reversible. However, early intervention can reduce the severity of the disability and improve the chances of success for the child. The early intervention for EAF or SFA includes occupational therapy, special education, and speech therapy evaluations (Drixler, 2001)
Aliyu, M.H., et al. (2008). Alcohol Consumption during Pregnancy and the Risk of Early Stillbirth among Singletons. Alcohol, volume 42, pages 369-374.
Babor T. et al. (2003). Alcohol: No ordinary commodity: Research and public policy. Oxford University Press. World Health Organization.
Drixler, C., Krahn, H., & Wood, R. T. (2001). Teenage drinking and driving in rural Alberta. Journal of Youth Studies, 4(1), 63-81
Jernigan, D. H. (2001). Global Status Report: Alcohol and Young People. Geneva: World Health Organization
Kairouz, S., & Adlaf, E. M. (2003). Schools, students, and heavy drinking: A multilevel analysis. Addiction Research and Theory, 11(6), 427-439
Kozlovskiy AV, (2000). Alcohol Situation in Belarus and its Regions. Medical News, 1:21-24
Ministry of Health. (2001a) AIDS Control Units, HIV Prevalence among Antenatal Clients. Sixth edition. Nairobi, Ministry of Health
Mugenda, O. M. & Mugenda A.G (1999). Research Methods: Quantitative & Qualitative Approaches. Nairobi: Kenya