October 15th is National Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day and PETA DANIEL asks our experts why alcohol and pregnancy just don’t mix
As a pregnant woman, whatever you put into your body will make its way into your baby’s system and could either support proper growth and good health, or lead to developmental problems, disorders, premature birth, or even death. We’re aware that overindulging in alcohol could be dangerous for your baby, but what about having just that one drink? Are there certain times during your pregnancy when it’s safer to drink alcohol than others? We uncover the truth about how alcohol affects your pregnancy and if it is ever safe to indulge.
PREGNANT WOMAN AND ALCOHOL
Fertility expert Dr Sascha Edelstein says that when you drink, the alcohol crosses the placenta into your baby’s system. It moves through the mother’s bloodstream, through the placental tissue and directly to the developing tissues of the foetus. Alcohol is especially devastating for brain development as it crosses the blood-brain barrier with ease, says FARR, the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research.
WHAT IS THE DANGER?
Alcohol consumed during pregnancy can lead to a restriction of growth in the foetus, with heart and facial shape anomalies, developmental delay, cognitive impairment and miscarriage. The harmful effects of alcohol can damage the foetus throughout the term of pregnancy and are not isolated to a particular time of a pregnancy. According to Dr Elmarie Basson, an OBGyn at Christiaan Barnaard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, the foetal blood alcohol levels approach maternal levels within a mere two hours of consumption.
The effect the alcohol has on the foetus will depend on a number of factors:
The mother’s body mass index.
Food consumption at the time the alcohol was ingested.
Other substances used such as smoking.
The danger to your foetus or baby increases when the amount you drink increases, with binge drinking thought to be most harmful to the foetus. Dr Edelstein also says that consumption of over seven units of alcohol per week is just as dangerous, with the greatest risk to the foetus being during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
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Mamas & Papas October 2018