Alcohol Consumption During Early Pregnancy

November 22, 2013

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is known to increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS – a spectrum of disorders that can last a child’s lifetime. FAS is not a precise definition of one problem. Rather, it represents a collection of mental and physical issues that affect a child from when they are still in the womb.

SAMHSA recently released a report estimating that almost 18 percent of women drink alcohol early in their pregnancy – in the first trimester. In fact, 6.6 percent of women binge drank during this time. Fortunately, the percentage of women who drank in their second trimester was dramatically lower and even lower still during the third trimester. Some interesting statistics from SAMHSA:

  • Over 55% of women aged 15-44 (not pregnant) consumed alcohol in the past month
  • 18% of pregnant women consumed alcohol in the past month during their first trimester
  • 4.2% of pregnant women consumed alcohol in the past month in their second trimester
  • 3.7% of pregnant women consumed alcohol in the past month in their third trimester

It seems that many women who are unaware that they are pregnant continue to drink until they learn the news. From there, the dramatic drop in drinking through the second and third trimester seems to suggest that knowledge of the dangers of drinking aids in abstinence. However, there is no doubt that those who may be pregnant should take precautions to avoid alcohol from the very beginning of their pregnancy.

There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant. The fact is that to avoid FAS in infants, pregnant mothers must abstain from alcohol entirely. Pregnant women who suffer from alcoholism should be encouraged to seek specialized treatment and care to help ensure the health of both mother and child.

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