Effects of alcohol abuse on unborn baby

Posted on July 21st, 2017 in alcohol, Alcohol Abuse, drinking

Effects of alcohol abuse on unborn baby

When a mother drinks during pregnancy, alcohol molecules pass freely to the fetus through the placenta. Thereafter, the alcohol reaches the baby still in the development phase very quickly that shoots his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the level of the mother. This is primarily due to the inability of the unborn baby in processing alcohol like adults. So, effectively when the mother drinks, the unborn baby also drinks.

Drinking during pregnancy can have far-reaching consequences on the development of the unborn baby, especially on its brain. Considering the fact that alcohol can cause permanent harm to a developing baby at any stage during the pregnancy, it is essential that women avoid drinking during pregnancy by all means, as any amount of alcohol is dangerous during such a critical stage.

Since pregnancy often turns out to be unplanned, women may start drinking alcohol even before they are aware about their pregnancy. Lesser amounts of alcohol consumed before a woman is aware of her pregnancy carries a lower risk, but heavy or binge drinking carries a higher risk for the developing baby. Heavy alcohol use during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or early birth. Stopping alcohol use at any stage of the pregnancy will improve the chances of having a healthy baby.

Alcohol inflicts irreparable brain damage on baby

One of the most prominent effects of alcohol abuse is permanent brain damage, which leads to cognitive, social and behavioral problems. Some of the problems include learning disabilities, memory deficit, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), mental health issues, etc. This condition is known as “static encephalopathy,” which means that brain damage has almost zero scope of getting any better or getting any worse. In brief, there is no way to reverse the damage.

Any kind of occasional indulgence in binge drinking can cause scattered holes in the brain that affect the areas developing at the time, causing brain cells death, migration of cells to the wrong place or tangles in the neurons with inaccurate connections.

Physical abnormalities and cognitive-behavioral problems in baby

When a woman chooses to consume alcohol while she is pregnant will increase the risk of her baby being born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which is an umbrella term for a full spectrum of birth disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Among all the disorders, the gravest condition is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Alcohol affects the fetus as early as two weeks after conception until birth. The major effects of FASD include physical and behavioral problems related to learning and memory, understanding of directions, controlling emotions, communication and socialization, etc. Besides cognitive-behavioral repercussions, children with FASD witness immense problem in completing their daily life activities, such as feeding and bathing.

Children with FAS have distinctive facial abnormalities, such as a small head, flat face, narrow eye openings, a thin upper lip and a smooth philtrum-the groove between nose and upper lip. These features get more pronounced by the age of two to three years. Other abnormalities are:

  • Poor growth.
  • Birth defects like problems related to the heart, bone, kidney, vision and hearing are common.
  • Seizuresand other neurologic problems, such as poor balance and coordination.
  • Delayed development.
  • Babies may turn out to be fussy or jittery, and have trouble sleeping. Older children and teens may have problems related to coordination, motor skills, social skills (difficulty getting along with friends and relating to others, etc.), learning, memory, problem-solving skills, etc.
  • Other behavioral problems include hyperactiveness, poor attention and concentration, stubbornness, impulsiveness and anxiety.

Children with other FASDs may have many of the similar problems, but they usually exist to a lesser degree. Since FASDs last for lifetime, one can only alleviate pain through an effective treatment, such as behavioral therapy, and medication.

Tackling alcoholism

Although the risk is higher with heavy alcohol use, any amount of alcohol may affect a developing fetus. Heavy drinking (five or more drinks on at least one occasion) during pregnancy can severely affect a developing baby. Instead of grappling the challenge singlehandedly, women suffering from alcoholism are recommended to seek effective treatment to ensure a healthy child.

If you or someone close to you is addicted to alcohol, contact the Arizona Alcohol Addiction Helpline to know more about the alcohol addiction treatment centers in Arizona. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-1510 or chat online to get more information about the best alcohol addiction treatment in Arizona.

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