Pregnant and drinking alcohol

Is it possible to be pregnant and drink alcohol? Alcohol is often consumed in the form of beer, wine or other spirits. Women react physically very differently to alcohol than men. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is not without dangers: alcohol reaches the baby via the placenta. What harmful consequences can this have for the baby? There are many prejudices about drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It is said that you should not drink a drop of alcohol, while others claim that it does not cause as much harm as is thought. The government can only intervene in exceptional cases and heavy alcohol consumption.

Can you drink alcohol during pregnancy?

No one forbids you to drink alcohol during pregnancy. It is your own body that you have control over. It is important to know that a new life is growing inside you, which depends on what you eat, drink, smoke, etc. Legally, you are allowed to drink alcohol during pregnancy. In a number of cases, however, the government can intervene. This happens to pregnant women who drink excessive amounts of alcohol and are concerned about the baby. This often concerns alcohol addicts who have previously had a child removed from their home or where it is suspected that the woman cannot provide a safe environment for the child. Initially, an attempt will be made to provide voluntary assistance to both parties. If the woman does not cooperate, forced assistance will be provided. The judge can order an OTS from three months before birth.

How much alcohol is harmful to the baby?

It has been known for some time that alcohol is harmful to the baby. The placenta does not block the alcohol, so alcohol ends up directly in the baby. Alcohol consumption by the mother can cause a number of birth defects in the baby. In addition, alcohol causes a lower birth weight and can cause premature birth. Abnormalities occur with just one glass of alcohol per day, but this varies per woman. Women who drink almost no alcohol but drink a large amount of alcohol in one go during an evening have an equally high risk of having a child with abnormalities.

Premature birth and miscarriage

Alcohol can cause premature birth, but also miscarriage. Less than one glass of alcohol per day can increase the risk of miscarriage. Preterm labor also often occurs with less than one drink per day. Women who drink a lot of alcohol during an early pregnancy without knowing that they are pregnant often worry. This is correct, because the risk of miscarriage is increased. Logically, alcohol damages the fetus. Development takes place at breakneck speed, especially during the first three months. Any error or disruption that occurs can result in a miscarriage. Women who want to become pregnant are therefore better off not drinking alcohol at all. Alcohol is only harmful from two weeks after fertilization.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder refers to those children who have some, but not all, of the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. The mother drank alcohol during pregnancy, but less than other women. The alcohol was enough to cause a number of birth defects. On average, 1 in 450 children have a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs in 1 in 1000 children. This occurred because the mother drank more than one glass of alcohol per day during pregnancy. The following symptoms indicate fetal alcohol syndrome:

  • Low birth weight and small body size.
  • The head circumference is behind that of peers.
  • Behavioral problems such as ADHD, ODD, autism and a delay in social-emotional development.
  • Delayed development, both physically and mentally.
  • Sometimes reduced muscle tension.
  • Abnormalities in the shape of the face: ears are lower, the eyes are straight and further apart, the distance between the nose and upper lip is large and a turn-up nose.
  • During an MRI scan it becomes clear that the brain volume is smaller than normal.
  • Many of these children receive special education or need extra guidance at school.
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