Wine During Pregnancy: Potential Risks

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There has been a lot of information recently on the healthy benefits of red wine. The health benefits of wine are attributed to the compound resveratrol that can help prevent blood clots, reduce bad cholesterol, and prevent heart disease. Do these health benefits outweigh the known risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy? Until recently, the overwhelming answer was all alcohol use during pregnancy put you and your baby at risk. Researchers and doctors are now saying an occasional glass of wine or even regular wine consumption, in moderation, during pregnancy offers little or no risk to the developing fetus. All experts agree that excessive alcohol use endangers a healthy pregnancy and places the unborn baby at an increased risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Since all mothers and babies tolerate alcohol differently, it is hard to determine an absolute safe alcohol level for either the pregnant mother, or her unborn baby. For this reason, most pediatricians and obstetricians will still advise no alcohol use during pregnancy. If you do decide to consume a glass of wine while pregnant, understand that according to the Mayo Clinic, wine in moderation is one five-ounce glass per day. Even for women who are not pregnant, the Mayo Clinic advises that amounts more than that per day begins to place you at risk for health concerns that can outweigh possible benefits.

Excessive alcohol intake while pregnant raises health risks for both mother and baby. Alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, stillbirths, low birth weight, or premature delivery. According to some studies, the possibility of miscarriage or stillbirth increases two to four percent when mothers continued alcohol use during pregnancy. Maternal alcohol use has also been linked to central nervous impairment, behavioral disorders, facial defects, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and other conditions that fall under a category known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). A serious complication of maternal alcohol use is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which seriously and permanently interferes with a baby’s development physically and mentally.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most serious of conditions known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome are born with multiple birth defects. In addition to a low birth weight, they often have a small head, small eyes, delayed development, and retardation. Other physical problems often develop as they grow and may include heart, hearing and vision problems as well as behavioral problems. Some problems may not appear at birth but develops as a child grows.

There are interventions that can help parents and a child deal with the mental, physical, and behavioral challenges associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, but there is no cure. The good news is that fetal alcohol syndrome can be avoided by avoiding excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Since every pregnancy is different, it is impossible to know just how much alcohol is safe. The majority of experts still advise avoiding any alcohol use at all to protect yourself and your baby from possible risks. If you do use wine in moderation, limit use to one five-ounce glass no more than once a day. Remember, fetal alcohol syndrome cannot be cured, but it can be prevented by simply not drinking alcohol while pregnant.

To learn more about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and fetal alcohol syndrome; consult the following links.

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