Is Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy Dangerous? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Published On: May 31, 2018

Drinking any type of alcoholic beverage is likely to cause an array of serious complications to unborn children.

No amount of alcohol is considered safe if you are pregnant. Drinking alcohol whilst pregnant may permanently damage unborn children.

This is the case even if you consume small amounts of alcohol.

These health implications for your unborn child include an increased risk of stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, miscarriage, and prematurity.

Despite these risks being relatively well-known and well-publicised, many babies are still unfortunately born each year with complications arising from their mother’s decision to drink alcohol whilst pregnant. Some of these babies must remain in hospital for many months in order to receive round-the-clock monitoring.

When these babies are allowed to go home, they will likely experience developmental issues for the rest of their lives due to a condition that is known as foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Impairments arising from FASD include learning difficulties and cognitive impairments.

Below, we share a visually appealing infographic that helps to outline the risk of drinking whilst pregnancy:

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In what ways does alcohol affect an unborn child?

Alcohol contacts unborn babies via the mother’s bloodstream. This blood enters into the umbilical cord and then into the placenta. Both of these organs server to supply the baby with nutrients and oxygen. However, alcohol is also able to pass through these organs, thus reaching the unborn child.

The mother is able to fully metabolise alcohol into harmless by-products. However, an unborn baby is not able to metabolise alcohol with such ease. It will take the unborn baby many hours to metabolise alcohol once the baby is exposed to this harmful substance.

Below, we outline how alcohol affects an unborn child:

1.  Miscarriage or stillbirth

Alcohol consumption whilst pregnant is believed to be the most common cause of miscarriage and stillbirth. A miscarriage occurs when a fetus dies within the initial 30 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies after this initial 20 weeks, the death is classified as a stillbirth.

It’s also important to stress the psychological impact either a miscarriage or stillbirth bears upon the mother. Since alcohol abuse is the most common cause of miscarriage or stillbirth, not drinking alcohol during pregnancy will significantly reduce the risk of this occurring.

2.  Premature birth

Drinking alcohol whilst pregnant is the most common cause of premature birth. A birth is considered premature when the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Many babies born prematurely will experience serious health issues, including a high risk of death. If a baby survives a premature death, the baby will almost certainly begin to suffer from developmental issues later on in life.

3.  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

FASDs describe a range of negative health issues suffered by those whose mothers drank alcohol during their pregnancy. FASDs are entirely uncurable and affect sufferers for their entire lives. Some examples of FASDs include cognitive and communication problems, problems processing emotions and difficulties carrying out everyday tasks.

4.  Birth defects

Lastly, drinking alcohol whilst pregnant is a major cause of birth defects including cleft lip, heart problems, clubfeet, spina bifida and down syndrome. These birth defects are most likely to occur if the mother drinks during the first trimester. Many of these birth defects are treatable using modern surgical techniques, although some are not treatable.

Helping a loved one who is abusing alcohol during pregnancy

As a loved one of a pregnant woman whose abusing alcohol, you are probably one of few persons who are really able to help. Your actions could help save an unborn life and help mitigate many of the health problems arising from drinking whilst pregnant that we describe above.

It’s likely your loved one will feel much shame and regret about their drinking. It’s also possible that your loved one could be concealing her drinking, even though it’s obvious to all those closest to her. If you are unsure how to approach your loved one regarding this issue, then rather than raising these issues alone, you may be better staging a professional intervention. An intervention is staged by a trained counsellor. This counsellor is often known as an interventionist. It’s common for professional intervention to be followed by residential rehab treatment lasting between 4-6 weeks in duration.

What are the signs of alcohol abuse during pregnancy?

Below, we list a number of warning signs that indicate a woman is abusing alcohol whilst pregnant:

  • Not engaging with prenatal care
  • Expressing the belief that drinking small amounts of alcohol will not cause any harm to an unborn child
  • Isolating herself and lashing out at loved ones, often aggressively and without cause
  • Neglecting responsibilities both at home and at work

Many GPs carry out substance abuse screening to try to pick up on alcohol abuse during pregnancy early on. GPs are trained to detect the signs of alcohol abuse and so you should insist on your loved one being examined by a GP or other prenatal medical professional.

Get help now

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we are able to assist you if you know somebody who is pregnant and abusing alcohol. If this is the case, know that seeking out treatment is time critical, because this person will undoubtedly be causing permanent damage to her unborn baby by continuing to drink alcohol. You can contact us today by clicking here. Our typical approach is to recommend a suitable alcohol rehab clinic that will help this person full recovery from their drinking problem.

Our advisors are able to assist you if you feel your loved one is abusing alcohol whilst pregnant. When you contact us on 0800 111 4108, we carry out a brief assessment. This assessment will allow us to recommend alcohol rehab treatment that’s suitable for your loved one’s needs. Many rehabs specialise in assisting pregnant women who find themselves abusing alcohol.

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