What Happens When You Drink While Pregnant

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What happens to babies whose mothers drink during pregnancy?

Babies exposed to alcohol before they are born may:

  • be smaller than other babies; and
  • have slight differences in their faces — small or narrow eyes, and a thin or flat upper lip.
  • Babies who consumed a lot of alcohol before birth might experience withdrawal symptoms in their first few weeks of life. This withdrawal often starts before they leave the hospital. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • extreme irritability (or fussiness);
  • tremors or shaking;
  • feeding problems; and
  • diarrhea.
  • Additionally, they might experience issues with their breathing, heart rate, or digestion.

    Alcohol use during pregnancy often results in fussy, difficult-to-settle babies. This problem may last for years. These babies may also have problems sleeping.

    FAS symptoms can change as a child gets older, but they last a lifetime.

    Toddlers with FAS may be:

  • hyperactive;
  • unable to follow simple instructions;
  • much too friendly, even to strangers; and
  • delayed in their development.
  • FAS in school-aged children may lead to:

  • learning difficulties, including problems reading;
  • difficulty paying attention;
  • behaviour problems in the classroom; and
  • falling behind in school.
  • Children with FAS frequently struggle with low self-esteem as a result of these issues. They perform best with a curriculum that is adapted to their needs.

    Alcohol and Pregnancy: Facts and Statistics

    Some statistics regarding the prevalence of drinking while pregnant may surprise you. In a three-year study, pregnant women between the ages of 12-44 were asked about their use of alcohol and other drugs. Here are some of the findings:14.

  • One in 5 pregnant respondents in their first trimester reported alcohol use in the past 30 days, and 10.5% of those reported binge drinking (4 or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion) in the same period. Women who reported binge drinking averaged 4.5 binging episodes during the 30 days.
  • Women are less likely to consume alcohol as their pregnancy progresses. Among second and third trimester respondents, 4.7% reported drinking in the past 30 days; 1.4% reported binge drinking.
  • Approximately 40% of pregnant respondents who reported to drinking within the last 30 days, also reported using other substances, including tobacco, marijuana, opioids, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamines, and more.
  • Worldwide, 1 in 67 women, who consumed alcohol during pregnancy, will deliver a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. That translates to about 119,000 children born with FAS every year.15 FAS is the most severe form of FASD. People with FAS experience growth problems, central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, and facial malformation or anomalies.7
  • The Effects Alcohol Can Have On Your Pregnancy

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