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Alcohol can have directly toxic and teratogenic (ability to cause abdnormalities) effect on a fetus as it is able to pass directly and rapidly through the placenta to the developing fetal organs.  Drinking alcohol is linked to a range of FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) which can cause Physical, Learning and Behavioural problems in babies and children sometimes continuing into adulthood.

Studies have shown alcohol exposure can affect the brain most predominantly and that abnormalities have also been shown within the heart, kidney, liver, gastrointestinal tract and endocrine systems linked to alcohol exposure.

And its not just your baby that alcohol affects directly but also the function of your placenta.  It is said to significantly reduce the ability of the placenta to transfer nutrients and oxygen in mid to late gestation and also significantly reduced oxygen supply to the babys blood vessels throughout pregnancy.

The time to try and completely avoid alcohol completely is the First Trimester where the baby’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system is developing at an incredible rate.  Also confirmed by another study that a womans risk of miscarriage increased every week they drank alcohol between the first 5 and 10 weeks.

But Don’t panic if you drank alcohol before finding out you are pregnant – it is just better to stay on the side of caution when you know.

If you do feel that completely abstaining from alcohol will be too difficult for the pregnancy then try to avoid alcohol in the 1st trimester and then limit as much as possible in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.   The NHS guidelines recommend if you are pregnant you should avoid alcohol. If you choose to drink, the NHS recommends that you drink only once, or at most twice, a week and have no more than one or two units each time.

A guideline to Units:

  • Alcopop – 1.5
  • 125ml glass of wine – 1.5      175ml glass of wine – 2.1
  • 330ml Bottle of 5% lager, beer or cider – 1.7
  •  Single shot of spirits 25ml – 1

Toxic and Teratogenic Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Fetal Development, Adolescence, and Adulthood –

Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE): insights into FASD using mouse models of PAE –

Impact of fetal alcohol exposure on body systems: A systematic review.

Effects of early daily alcohol exposure on placental function and fetal growth in a rhesus macaque model

Week-by-week alcohol consumption in early pregnancy and spontaneous abortion risk: A prospective cohort study.

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