Nutrition during pregnancy, Pregnancy

Alcohol during pregnancy: How much is harmful?

Alcohol during pregnancy: How much is harmful?

Alcohol during pregnancy is unhealthy and, in the worst case, even permanently harmful to the baby. This is because the unborn child cannot metabolize alcohol as well as the adult mother. Here you can find out why alcohol acts like poison for your child during pregnancy and whether a small glass is okay.

It’s true, many women drank alcohol before they found out they were pregnant and still gave birth to a healthy child. And every pregnant woman knows the situation: At a cozy dinner with friends, the enforced abstinence can also be quite annoying. The temptation to have a drink is great. You think to yourself, “It’s only a little bit, and my mother’s occasional glass of wine didn’t kill me either.” But there is no certainty about this. What is certain, however, according to the Federal Office of Public Health, is that excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the most common cause of mental retardation in a child.

“What you drink, your child drinks too”

When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, the alcohol travels directly through the placenta, the placenta , into the bloodstream of the embryo (1-3 months) or fetus (3 months and older). In contrast to the mother, however, the unborn babies reduce the blood alcohol level, i.e. the concentration of alcohol in the blood, much more slowly. If the development of the fetus is not yet complete, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can irreversibly damage the healthy growth of the unborn child.

Alcohol is like poison for the unborn child. In science, one speaks of a malformation-causing pollutant, since alcohol intake in the womb can cause a variety of permanent disabilities and can occur. These include short stature, underweight, physical deformities and damage to the central nervous system.
Severe long-term damage includes behavioral disorders (e.g., hyperactivity) and intellectual impairments that reach the level of severe mental retardation. In severe cases, the symptoms of the disease are referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or collectively as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The type and severity of alcohol-related harm during pregnancy depend on how far along the child’s development has progressed, its individual predisposition, and how much and how often the mother has consumed alcohol.

FASD: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The generic terms Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describe disease syndromes of prenatal malformations that are exclusively due to alcohol consumption. If an unborn child is exposed to alcohol in the womb, not only is its development inhibited, but it also experiences further physical and mental damage depending on its developmental maturity, the amount of alcohol consumed and the individual condition. In the meantime, the term FASD has become established because it emphasizes that the severity and appearance of the disease symptoms vary.



Alcohol during pregnancy: recommended rules of conduct

In its fact sheet on alcohol and pregnancy, the Federal Office of Public Health advises not to take any risks: “Since it is not possible to say with certainty what amount of alcohol will cause damage to the (unborn) child, it is advisable to completely stop drinking alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding waive.”

Do not drink alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy

In any case, in order to avoid any health risks, they should remain completely abstinent for at least the first three months, since alcohol in the first trimester of pregnancy can impair the process of brain development.

However, it can still be dangerous to consume alcohol afterwards. The 10th to 20th week of pregnancy is considered critical for signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). From the 6th month, alcohol during pregnancy can affect the perception of visual and acoustic information. Reading and arithmetic weaknesses can be a result, for example.

In Switzerland, pregnant women who do not want to or cannot do without alcohol are recommended to limit their consumption to one glass. That means no more than a bar of beer or 1dl of wine per day. Also, you should not drink every day, but take longer breaks. The Federal Office of Public Health points out that “even moderate alcohol consumption of 2-4 glasses per week can have an impact on the child’s development”.

Alcohol in the first three weeks of pregnancy

Concerned women who have consumed alcohol in the first three weeks because they did not know about the pregnancy can be given the all-clear. But not for general alcohol consumption in the first few weeks. In this context, the online portal for women’s health , ACOG , speaks of the initial course of pregnancy according to the “all or nothing principle”. Either the disorder of the embryo is so serious that it leads to a miscarriage comes or the cells of the embryo damaged by alcohol can be replaced without loss of function and continue to develop healthily. Cause: In this phase, the cells are not yet committed to their function in the developed body. They are, so to speak, all-rounders. In the further development, however, the cells take on fixed tasks in the body and lose their all-rounder abilities. As a result, damaged cells in advanced pregnancy can no longer be easily replaced by other cells.

alcohol while breastfeeding

Even after the birth , the mother’s alcohol consumption can be harmful to the baby. Namely when she is breastfeeding . The alcohol gets into the mother’s milk and thus into the child’s organism. The baby’s liver is slow to break down alcohol. In the worst case, alcohol in breast milk can disrupt organic and cognitive development and increase the susceptibility to later alcohol dependence, according to the Federal Office of Public Health

Moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy: a residual risk remains

So far, from a medical point of view, it cannot be said that moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy is completely harmless. Where the risk ends and where it begins remains an unsolved question. If you want to be 100% sure, it is better to avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy, because there is no precise limit above which drinking alcohol becomes harmful.

What is your experience with alcohol during pregnancy? Write a comment below this article


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