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Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths

Ramiro Guzman
7 min read
Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths – Mothers And Babies – WebMediums
Alcohol intake during pregnancy is one of the most addressed issues by public health

Alcohol during pregnancy is one of the practices that is contraindicated from the beginning. There is no safe method or scientific study that supports, even, a certain amount limits for its consumption.

In short, it is a substance whose components can alter the growth and development of the embryo, later a fetus. If you still have doubts about it, it is convenient to clarify them so as not to fall into errors.

The 5 realities associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy

The danger of alcoholic beverages lies in their ability to diffuse passively through the umbilical cord. They easily reach the fetal blood circulation, attributing a series of counterproductive effects.

They vary in intensity, but even a small percentage of consumption can cause significant structural deficits.

On top of that, it is proven that fetal or intrauterine death is capable of manifesting itself.

Defects in the baby's intrinsic growth potential

Toxicity from alcoholic beverages directly affects the growth potential of the baby.

It paves the way for a series of congenital and perinatal conditions known as "fetal alcohol spectrum disorders" or FASDs for short.

Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths – Mothers And Babies – WebMediums
Any amount of alcohol crosses the umbilical cord and can be fatal

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are known to cause significant disabilities. From malformations in physical appearance, to mild, moderate or severe damage to organic systems such as the brain, heart, liver and more.

No amount of alcohol is acceptable in this period

There is a false belief that mothers feel safe drinking "just a little" alcohol. But unfortunately even the famous "social drinks" are controversial.

All the studies carried out and especially emphasized by influential organizations such as the CDC, agree on the same thing. There is no evidence that any minimum measure of alcohol can NOT affect the development of pregnancy.

Its restriction is for any stage of gestation

Just as no drop of alcohol is allowed, neither is any moment of pregnancy appropriate for its consumption. There is also the belief that the more the pregnancy is over, the less risk of toxicity manifests itself.

The truth is that harmful or toxic substances like these do not have a rest date and their rapid diffusion conditions everything.

Before you even realize your gestational status, the adverse effects of alcohol put your baby's later development at risk.

Alarming facts about alcoholic beverages and pregnancy

Education about a correct development in pregnancy is less and less accessible.

Likewise, the rate of unwanted pregnancies and/or adolescents are biological and social risk factors that predispose to these alcoholic practices.

Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths – Mothers And Babies – WebMediums
The CDC showed that the last 30 days of pregnancy is the period where more alcohol is consumed

In the United States alone, a nation considered "world leader", 1 in 7 women with this condition drank alcohol. In the same order of ideas, 1 in 20 cases ingested these drinks excessively regardless of the consequences.

FASDs are preventable, but not curable

Prenatal control is the specialized consultation by the gynecology-obstetrics service to sequence the pregnancy.

The follow-up of the same and the correct approach will allow the identification of risk factors, bad habits and other customs that compromise the fetus.

One of the main objectives is to educate not only women, but parents in general about alcohol. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are one hundred percent preventable if a suitable campaign is structured.

Otherwise, the parents will be faced with prenatal or postnatal consequences that are incurable.

In other words, the product of the pregnancy will not have a decent life due to its basic problems related to this habituation.

Alcohol and other substances BEFORE pregnancy

Alcohol is not only a concern in this period, but in various areas of life. Adolescents are the main population or age group that is in close contact with alcoholic products.

Likewise, they tend to combine them with other harmful, psychotropic or addictive substances. Although it may not seem like it, they are complex situations that predispose to unwanted conception.

  1. The disproportionate drink with alcohol gives free rein to neurological problems. The toxic components of this compound have a predilection for the central nervous system, compromising brain growth and development.

  2. As a result, cognitive disorders or disorders associated with behavior and personality change drastically. Aggressive or disinhibited behaviors are common, leading to unprotected sexual openness.

  3. The high rate of unwanted pregnancies, rape and sexually transmitted infections are secondary to this risk factor. Therefore, it is a serious scenario to deal with for public health.

Recent findings exposed by the CDC reveal that the population between 12 and 20 years old consumes more alcohol than they should. Without wanting to exaggerate, such a high-caliber scientific study concluded that this age group consumes up to a tenth of the total alcohol in the United States.

Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths – Mothers And Babies – WebMediums
Unwanted pregnancy is one of the main consequences of alcohol without limits

Annex to this, the same statistics applied to colleges and schools, add devastating data. In the span from 9th to 10th grade, more than half of the students used marijuana combined with alcoholic beverages.

Frequently asked questions about alcohol during pregnancy

Access to information is really scarce and false beliefs, religions and customs dominate the field.

The reality is that not all cases are the same and most mothers seek information to clarify their most frequent doubts.

"I didn't know I was pregnant, and I drank alcohol: what can I do?"

It is common that the symptoms of pregnancy do not manifest quickly in many scenarios. Therefore, the mother continues her daily life as usual, being prone to "social drinks".

The CDC recommends stopping drinking immediately and setting a guideline for how much alcohol was consumed. A posteriori, it is important to enter into strict prenatal control in conjunction with perinatal care to screen for complications.

Although there is risk, it is important to remember that not all organisms are the same. But it does not mean that it is not a warning to be cautious (mother and father), especially being in the initial search for conception.

"I guess low-alcohol flavored drinks won't hurt"

As already stated in previous paragraphs, all kinds of alcoholic beverages are prohibited during pregnancy. There is no known reliable data that allows a minimum intake of it or of any particular type.

Alcohol during pregnancy: myths and truths – Mothers And Babies – WebMediums
Drinking wine is a common social activity, but prohibited in pregnancy

From the wine itself, through beer and/or cocktails, each one of them is contraindicated. And although they are the only classes of alcoholic beverages that are reflected as examples, the rest of the repertoire also counts.

"I drank in my last pregnancy and nothing happened, why should I stop?"

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are strongly linked to alcohol consumption. However, exposure to it can affect more or less depending on a mixture of unspecified factors.

The fact that it did not have serious consequences in the first pregnancy does not mean that it will not do so in the second. In addition, the manifestations of FASD are not evident until a certain stage of life, usually in schoolchildren or adolescents.

In conclusion, even if it is not noticed or thought that "nothing happened", it is probably not manifested yet. It is better to prevent before continuing with an already fully certified malpractice.

"If I want to get pregnant... Can I still drink alcohol?"

The symptoms of pregnancy do not manifest until well into 4 or 6 weeks at the most. On very few occasions it will be possible to discern at an early stage if the pregnancy attempt was successful.

At that time the woman is susceptible to continue taking without knowing that she has already conceived. Ultimately, it's best to stay away from every drop or ounce of alcohol before you even think about starting a family.