How Does Alcohol Affect Pregnancy?

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According to the American Pregnancy Association, alcohol negatively affects the fetus during pregnancy by increasing the risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Alcohol is a teratogen; it is harmful to human development. When a pregnant women drinks alcohol, so does the fetus inside her through the placenta. The alcohol stays in the blood of the fetus longer damaging the growth of cells, especially the spinal cord cells, states WebMD.

Both WebMD and the American Pregnancy Association agree that any amount of alcohol is risky because no amount has been proven safe. Some women have greater amounts of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, but it is difficult to measure. If a woman has a low level of enzymes, the alcohol stays in her system and the system of the fetus even longer, claims David Garry, DO, on WebMD. Indisputably, binge drinking, five or more drinks at one time, is the most dangerous for the fetus because it greatly increases risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

WebMD lists the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ranging in severity. The list of effects on the fetus includes small head, flat face, narrow eyes, smaller body, delayed speech and language skills, learning and behavior problems and problems bonding and feeding. During pregnancy, binge drinking also increases the risk of miscarriage, a stillbirth or an early birth.