When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol her baby consumes it as well. Alcohol passes through the placenta and enters the baby's blood stream. This can be dangerous to a small human being whose organs and brain are trying to develop properly.
According to the March of Dimes alcohol metabolizes more slowly in a fetus, therefore it will stay in the baby's system longer and in higher concentrations than it will the baby's mother. An elevated blood alcohol level in an unborn child can cause many different types of damage.
A mother should know how long alcohol stays in her body before deciding how much she will drink. To know more details on that, read Health Essential: How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?.
Increased Risk of Miscarriage
Expectant mothers who drink during pregnancy are at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. This might be because of the damage the alcohol has on a developing baby's organs due to elevated blood alcohol levels in the fetus.
Discovery Health states that babies born to mothers who drank alcoholic beverages during their pregnancy were more likely to experience physical abnormalities or defects, have a low birth weight, be more hyperactive as children and have a shorter attention span.
The physical problems will affect the child right away, but the developmental problems will start to affect the child more greatly in educational settings. A child with hyperactivity issues and a short attention span may have trouble sitting still in school and focusing on what he or she is being taught. These problems will be ongoing and make the child's educational experience harder than that of a child whose mother did not drink during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Babies born to mothers who drink excessively during pregnancy are at a high risk of developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). According to the Center for Disease Control, babies born with FAS may suffer from mental retardation, facial abnormalities, growth problems, problems with their central nervous system, as well as difficulties in learning, attention span, memory and being able to communicate effectively. Babies born with FAS may have trouble seeing and hearing.
There is no safe amount of alcohol that a woman can consume during pregnancy since all alcohol consumed by an expectant mother is experienced by the fetus. Women should not drink at all during pregnancy. Women who feel they cannot stop drinking even after they find out they are pregnant should seek some type of addiction treatment immediately in order to protect themselves and their babies.