In addition to smoking during pregnancy, alcohol is the biggest risk factor for the unborn child. This is because the unfiltered alcohol gets into the unborn baby’s blood via the placenta and can have a serious impact on its development.
Anyone who drinks alcohol during pregnancy risks that their child develops the so-called embryo – fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD). The consequences can be:
- Short stature
- delayed mental development
- striking appearance
- nervous behavior
- severe mental and physical disabilities
In Germany alone, an estimated 4,000 to 10,000 children are born each year with different levels of mental and physical alcohol damage.
There are no limit values that state how much alcohol harms the child or how much alcohol is harmless. Therefore, the following should apply to every pregnant woman: every glass of alcohol during pregnancy is too much.
Alcohol can harm the unborn child.
The risk increases, the more and the more often the pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Every second child, whose mother often drank a lot of alcohol during pregnancy, is born mentally or physically disabled.
Although it is not clear from what amount of alcohol damages the unborn child during pregnancy, it is certain: There are days in the course of pregnancy in which little alcohol can be harmless and cause no damage. However, there are also days on which a glass of sparkling wine can irreversibly cause serious damage to the child. Since nobody can say exactly where these time slots are, alcohol should be completely taboo during pregnancy.
The problem is not only that the alcohol passes directly from the mother’s to the child’s blood and thus the mother and child have the same alcohol level . In contrast to the pregnant woman, the child’s organism is not easily able to break down alcohol, even in small quantities. The poison therefore remains in the child’s circulation for longer and causes irreparable damage there.
Therefore: Always avoid alcohol during pregnancy, including the so-called “sip in honor”.
Nowadays there are enough alternatives in the form of non-alcoholic sparkling wine or beer or non-alcoholic mixed drinks to be able to toast to pregnant women on festive occasions.
Possible consequences of alcohol in pregnancy
Anyone who drinks alcohol during pregnancy risks dangerous consequences for both pregnancy and especially for their child. Anyone who drinks pregnant alcohol increases the risk of a – often very early – premature birth . The consequences for the unborn child are far more diverse and irreparable.
Effects on the child
If the pregnant woman drinks alcohol, this can have serious consequences for the unborn child. The alcohol passes unfiltered into the child’s blood via the placenta and remains there longer than would be the case with an adult. Because the child’s organism can only slowly break down the poison, even if it is only a small amount. The alcohol so it has enough time to intervene in the development of the unborn and to cause irreparable damage.
Alcohol prevents cells from dividing.
This is particularly dangerous in the phase in which the baby’s nerve cells and organs develop, i.e. in the first trimester , since important developmental steps can be interrupted or completely prevented. For example, this can lead to later behavioral disorders (e.g. hyperactivity and emotional disorders).
In the 2nd and 3rd trimester , alcohol can prevent the unborn from growing and growing to a healthy extent. Alcohol also damages the brain so that it cannot develop normally. The consequence:
- Developmental delays
- Behavioral problems
In addition, alcohol in pregnancy promotes later child alcohol dependence.
Depending on how much alcohol the mother drinks during pregnancy, the baby can develop the so-called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS, also: alcohol embryopathy, alcohol fetopathy or embryofetal alcohol syndrome). How harmful the alcohol is depends on how much alcohol has been consumed and at what stage of development the baby is. In the less severe case, the newborn only shows grade I symptoms, in the worst case grade III symptoms:
- Grade I : reduced growth, underweight, somewhat delayed mental development
- Grade II : striking appearance, such as narrow eyelids, flat nasal root, small head and “nervous” behavior (hyperkinetics)
- Grade III : delayed mental and physical development, conspicuous appearance (especially deformation in the head area), heart malformations, low chances of survival