Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tips for Drinking Wine When Pregnant: Is it OK? by Kevin Preble

Some people might take the link between alcohol consumption and fetal alcohol syndrome lightly. But evidence seems to suggest a strong link between the two. Therefore it is wise to abstain from alcohol during the entire course of the pregnancy.

Countless caring mothers ask me whether it is safe to drink small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. They wish that physicians or doctors would recommend some safe levels for consuming alcohol. But the difficulty with suggesting any safe level is that such parameters cannot be clearly defined. Moreover, what is considered safe for one individual can be extremely unsafe for another? Therefore, it is safer to abstain totally from alcohol intake during the entire course of pregnancy. Recommending a safe level of alcohol consumption could be one of the most unsafe pieces of advice to give pregnant women today.

There was a time when physicians felt that a rare glass of wine was OK for a pregnant woman. But since then, a number of cases of fetal alcohol effect and fetal alcohol syndrome have been identified. These conditions are generally characterized by behavioral disturbances, mental retardation, postnatal and prenatal deficiencies of growth, and facial appearances that are atypical (I wonder if MY mother drank). Other problems could include low birth weight, brain damage, hearing or vision problems, delayed development, organ deformities, kidney or urinary tract defects, and sometimes even death. Brain anomalies and congenital heart defects are common results of alcohol consumption during pregnancy as well.

Other major congenital anomalies such as limb defects, genitourinary defects and spina bifida have also been detected, but are far less common. This syndrome affects almost 30 - 40% of children born to women that are regular alcoholics. But even consuming very little amounts of alcohol at the time of pregnancy, as low as 3 ounces a day, can give rise to fetal alcohol syndrome.

Less severe symptoms known as fetal alcohol effects could result from consuming even lower quantities of alcohol during pregnancy. Children born to women averaging even around 2 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day during pregnancy are frequently affected with minor anomalies, mild mental deficiencies, moderate growth deficiency, and subtle behavioral problems (once again, I wonder if MY mom drank while pregnant with me!).

One research has reported that around 30% of children whose mothers had 14 ounces or more of pure alcohol around conception, or 3.5 ounces or more during the pregnancy, had damaged neurological functions.

With so many studies showing a consistent pattern of association between abnormalities in children and consumption of alcohol during conception or pregnancy, it is wise for women to abstain totally from drinking if they are planning to conceive, or are already carrying. This decision would go a long way in preventing damage to the fetus and preventing the consequences of irresponsible drinking in the long run. Although the reasoning that an occasional glass of wine would do no harm, it is always better to forego a few minutes of pleasure than to endure a lifetime of misery.

If only you had thought of this before conceiving the child. Hahaha. OK, just kidding. Kids are great.