If you’ve had a glass of wine before you knew you were pregnant, don’t panic. It’s unlikely that you did your baby any harm, according to the March of Dimes. The baby’s brain and other organs don’t begin to develop until around week three of your pregnancy. However, as soon as you know you are pregnant, you should stop drinking immediately and the same goes if you are trying to conceive.
Physical Disabilities/Birth Defects
Drinking alcohol during the first trimester can harm the baby’s organs that are beginning to form. Birth defects can happen in the heart, kidneys, liver, ears, eyes and bones. Drinking at any stage of pregnancy can harm the baby’s brain.
A study, published in the November 2009 edition of the journal “Addiction” and reported by Science Daily, on the effects of drinking alcohol in the first trimester, showed that mothers who were heavy drinkers in the first 13 weeks were three times as likely to have a child with anxiety, depression or somatic (bodily) complaints. Heavy drinking is having more than a bottle of wine per week or more than two glasses of wine per occasion. Mothers who drank moderately, which is two glasses of wine per occasion and no more than a bottle of wine per week during the first trimester, were twice as likely to report such problems with their children. This study revealed that low levels of alcohol consumption, which would be an occasional glass of wine, did not increase harm to the baby.
Chance of Miscarriage
The risk of miscarriage doubles in women who drink during pregnancy, particularly heavy drinking, according to Merck. Because most miscarriages occur during the first trimester, it is especially important to refrain from drinking during this time.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
One of the most common causes of mental retardation is because of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), according to the March of Dimes. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that this preventable form of retardation affects 1,000 to 6,000 babies born in the United States each year. Babies who have FAS are abnormally small at birth and do not usually catch-up. Facial features of FAS babies are a small head, small eyes, a short nose, a thin upper lip and no groove between the nose and upper lip. The organs, particularly the heart, may not form properly. Most FAS babies have a smaller brain, which manifests itself in various degrees of mental disability. Many children have poor coordination, a short attention span and behavioral problems. FAS is a lifelong condition.
- female drinking wine image by David Winwood from Fotolia.com