The Dangers of Alcohol Addiction During Pregnancy
Alcohol affects the mother’s body significantly differently than it affects the fetus. As you consume alcohol, your liver works as quickly as possible to filter the alcohol and remove it from your system. Unfortunately, the same is not true for the fetus. While in utero, their liver is not strong enough to filter the alcohol creating a situation where it remains in their body for too long. As an addict, the amount of alcohol you may consume will be considerably larger than the possible one small drink a day or even week of a non-alcoholic. At the rate an alcoholic drinks, the baby has the potential to remain in a constant state of having alcohol in their systems.
Alcohol can have a considerably negative effect on the pregnancy itself. The March of Dimes reports that as many as 56% of women may be more susceptible to having a stillbirth if they drink at a binge level at least three times a week during the first 16 weeks of their pregnancy. Additionally, women who consistently drink at high levels run a high risk of premature birth or miscarriage.
Because of the constant high amounts of alcohol in their systems, unborn children of alcoholics are also at a great risk of developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, otherwise known as FAS. This condition is responsible for the child having any combination of mental, behavioral, and physical conditions when they are born. Some of the most common conditions are heart problems, mental retardation, emotional issues, and poor coordination and motor skills. Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are often characterized by facial abnormalities including a small head, narrow eyes, a thin and smooth upper lip with a small groove in it, and a small upper jaw.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the few conditions that are completely preventable for unborn children. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for children once they are born with the syndrome. The conditions of the syndrome will continue to affect the child for the rest of their lives. While you can certainly make every effort to help a child with FAS have a healthy and meaningful life, they will always struggle.
You may know it is important to stop drinking but it is dangerous to try to quit by yourself; you might experience severe withdrawal symptoms that can be hazardous to your health or that of your unborn baby. If you are battling an addiction to alcohol while you are pregnant, it is imperative you find assistance as soon as you can. The sooner you can help rid the baby’s body of alcohol, the better chance they have of not developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Your healthcare provider can also help you find the best and safest way to detoxify your body and stay clean and sober for the duration of your pregnancy. The earlier you can stop drinking in your pregnancy, the better chance your baby has of being born as healthy and normally as possible. Even if you are in the second or third trimester, do not let that discourage you; finding assistance and getting sober is still a possibility, both for you and your child.