If you are addicted to alcohol and are pregnant, you must take serious measures to stop drinking. When you drink, so does your baby. No amount of alcohol is safe for your baby and can lead to serious complications. If you have been trying to stop drinking, your pregnancy can serve as the extra motivation you need.
Your baby’s brain develops during pregnancy. Not only can drinking alcohol while pregnant cause you to miscarry or have a stillbirth, you are subjecting your unborn baby to a host of possible lifelong complications. These complications are referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Characteristics are abnormal facial features, a small head size, shorter-than-average height, low weight, poor coordination, hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, learning disabilities, language delays, low IQ, poor reasoning and judgment, sleep and sucking problems as a baby, vision or hearing problems and problems with the heart, kidney or bones.
No amount of alcohol is safe to drink while you are pregnant, but frequent drinking is even worse, increasing the odds of your baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome, which is the most severe result of the possible complications. Frequent drinking while you are pregnant is seven or more drinks per week, which includes mixed drinks, wine and beer. Binge drinking is also included in frequent drinking, which is having four or more drinks on one occasion.
Certain factors might predict whether you are prone to use alcohol during pregnancy, according to results of a survey conducted by Gary R. Leonardson, Roland Loudenburg and Judy Struck in 2007, published in the “Behavioral and Brain Functions” journal. Their research was limited to three rural states, but they found certain traits in the women studied. The women tended to be single and between 21 and 25 years old. The women also had fewer children, had abortions and were unemployed. Being unemployed was not a factor in women who were married and full-time housewives. Other traits associated with alcohol use during pregnancy were women who had past sexual abuse, have current or past physical abuse, women who smoke, use drugs, live with a substance abuser or feel sad.
The study in “Behavioral and Brain Functions” determined that if health care providers are aware of these risk factors, they might be able to intervene and get help for women who drink while pregnant. The study suggests that interventions have a positive effect on getting pregnant women to stop drinking.
If you have been drinking, it is never too late for you to stop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can talk to your doctor about getting treatment. You can receive help by contacting Alcoholics Anonymous or by using the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator to find a local treatment facility.