A glass of wine during pregnancy can’t hurt, right? Yes, it can, because alcohol is pure poison for the unborn child! The embryo drinks with every glass, because the alcohol travels directly through the placenta into the growing body. The unborn child is even exposed to the same alcohol concentration as the mother for up to eight times longer, since the child’s liver is still immature and cannot break down alcohol. High maternal alcohol consumption can cause, among other things, reduced brain growth, serious physical damage, nervous abnormalities and mental developmental disorders in the child.
The greatest risk for physical malformations in cases of high alcohol abuse occurs in the early stages up to the 3rd month of pregnancy. Maternal alcohol consumption adversely affects cell proliferation and cell division, which can lead to fetal malformations. The brain of the unborn child is particularly at risk. It lags in development and is consequently significantly smaller than in normally developed children. Between the 4th and 6th month of pregnancy, alcohol consumption by the mother leads primarily to growth disorders, and there is also an increased risk of miscarriage as a result of drinking. Between the 7th and 9th month of pregnancy, there is normally significant body growth in the unborn child, which can be severely disrupted by alcohol consumption. Since the brain of the unborn child also enlarges considerably during these months, the influence of alcohol can result in developmental disorders – nerve cells in the brain do not communicate with each other or, in the worst case, even die.
Although no obvious damage can (yet) be detected in babies who were exposed to only very small amounts of alcohol in the womb immediately after birth, it cannot be ruled out that cognitive damage may occur, which may not become apparent until school age. However, there are still insufficient studies on this. Possible late effects can be: irritability, restlessness, aggressiveness, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, inability to establish social contacts, and many more.
A press release from the Professional Association of Gynecologists on 3/1/2018 states that 30% of all expectant mothers drink alcohol. Sad reality: according to the Federal Center for Health Education, about 10,000 children are born in Germany each year with severe and permanent alcohol damage. 3,000 to 4,000 babies of these are born with the most severe form of maternal alcohol abuse: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This would be 100% preventable if women did not drink during pregnancy. Therefore, for the sake of your unborn child, please abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and rather reach for water, juice spritzers, or non-alcoholic juice cocktails.