Did you know? There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. But why should this matter if you are not pregnant or not trying to be? Because nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. And many women don't know they're pregnant right away.
So if you drink alcohol, even in moderation, and you are having sex without using a method to prevent pregnancy, you might get pregnant and unintentionally expose your baby to alcohol, even before you know you're pregnant. No woman wants to intentionally harm her baby. This could happen to any of us.
Take charge of your health and start the conversation. Learn how FASDs impact everyone, even you.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
You might have heard of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which is one condition in the FASD spectrum. A baby born with FAS has a small head, weighs less than other babies, and has distinctive facial features.
Some of the behavioral and intellectual disabilities of people with FASDs include:
difficulty with attention
speech and language delays
poor reasoning and judgment skills
Alcohol in mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby.
Because every pregnancy is different, drinking alcohol may hurt one baby more than another.
The baby’s brain, body and organs are developing throughout pregnancy and can be affected by exposure to alcohol at any time.
What if I drank
before I knew I was pregnant?
Make sure you get regular prenatal checkups. Tell your medical provider you had been drinking and ask for advice.
Remember, it is never too late to stop drinking. Because brain growth takes place throughout pregnancy, the sooner you stop drinking the safer it will be for you and your baby.
If you are unable to stop drinking, talk to your medical provider. Resources are available to help you.
If I drank when I was pregnant
does that mean my baby will have an FASD?
If you drank any amount of alcohol while you were pregnant, talk with your child’s medical provider as soon as possible and share your concerns.
You may not know right away if your child has been affected. FASDs include a range of physical and intellectual disabilities that are not always easy to identify when a child is a newborn. Some of these effects may not be known until your child is in school.
There is no cure for FASDs. However, identifying and intervening with children with these conditions as early as possible can help them to reach their full potential.
Are some types of alcohol, such as red wine,
safer to drink during pregnancy than others?
Drinking any type of alcohol can affect your baby’s growth and development and cause FASDs. This includes all wines, beer and mixed drinks.
A 5-ounce glass of red or white wine has the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can of beer or a 1.5-ounce shot of straight liquor.
Some drinks, like mixed alcoholic drinks or malt liquor drinks, might have more alcohol in them than a 12-ounce beer.
Is it okay to drink a little
or at certain times during pregnancy?
There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during your pregnancy or when you are trying to get pregnant.
There is also no safe time to drink when you are pregnant. Alcohol can cause problems for your developing baby throughout your pregnancy, including before you know you are pregnant.
FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy—so why take the risk?
Is it okay to drink alcohol
if I am trying to get pregnant?
You might be pregnant and not know it yet. You probably won’t know you are pregnant for up to 4 to 6 weeks. This means you might be drinking and exposing your developing baby to alcohol without meaning to.
Alcohol use during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
The best advice is to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant.
Why should I worry about alcohol use
if I am not pregnant and not trying to get pregnant?
If you drink alcohol and do not use contraception (birth control) when you have sex, you might get pregnant and expose your baby to alcohol before you know you are pregnant.
Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. And many women do not know they are pregnant right away. So, if you are not trying to get pregnant but you are having sex, talk to your medical provider about using contraception consistently.