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Alcohol in Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Dr. Gunjan Gupta Govil 89% (19 ratings)
Certification in IVF & Infertility, Diplomate Gynae Laparoscopy, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG), MD - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, MBBS
Gynaecologist, Ghaziabad  •  22 years experience
Alcohol in Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Most people will give you a blatant No. And they are quite right to do so. But if you have been a habitual offender who can't unwind without their drink, pregnancy is going to be a big problem. So does the rule stand in all cases? What if you drank when you didn't know you were pregnant yet? What if you had a light drink here and there, will it literally spell disaster? Let's find out.

Contradictory advice everywhere: Most doctors will advice you to stay away completely from alcohol as soon as that first positive emerges in your test. Others may give you a little leeway and let you have an occasional drink. There are friends who'll confess to have cheated during their pregnancy and snuck in a beer or two and say that their kids turned out just fine. There are other friends will scorn on you for even thinking such a thing. Same goes for your relatives. Like all things in pregnancy, random advice will just not work.

How much can you drink? Let's assume that you are confident nothing will happen and want to be adventurous and give it a cautious try. Danish researchers have some good news for you. Some studies have shown that low to moderate consumption of alcohol does not harm the baby. In fact, in 2012, Danish researchers released a highly publicized study that found no major problems in children below 5 years whose mothers had consumed 1- 8 alcoholic drinks a week during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, not all research is made equal. With pregnancy, each mother, each child and progression of each pregnancy is different. It really has to be on a case by case basis and nothing can be taken on face value. Most people will still advise you to completely go off alcohol as there is 'no safe' amount during pregnancy. Some women have a larger quantity of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. If a woman with lower levels of this enzyme drinks alcohol, it is more likely to harm her unborn child as the alcohol will remain in her bloodstream longer.

How alcohol can affect your child?

A number of disorders that can affect your child when in the womb and even after because of alcohol consumption. These disorders are collectively called 'Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder'. It is characterized by increased risk in miscarriage and stillbirth. It can also result in the baby having low birth weight and increase problems with learning, speech, attention span, language and hyperactivity. Alcohol consumption may also affect girl child and a baby boy differently. While both may turn out to have aggressive and delinquent behaviour, girls are more likely to develop mental health problems too.

If you are unable to give up on alcohol, you need to immediately get professional help to overcome your addiction. Also note that the term 'non-alcoholic' beverage is misleading as they can contain trace amounts of it. Consult a doctor today on which drinks are safe for you.

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