Tom & Emily
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There's only one certainty when talking about the safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman to consume, and that's that no one knows the limit. In fact, the Surgeon General advises that women who are planning on becoming pregnant or who are sexually active but not using reliable birth control should avoid alcohol to eliminate all risk of fetal alcohol exposure.
Hello from the Supers! We are awed by the strength, bravery and love that are evident in your decision to explore adoption. We are so excited to expand our family by welcoming you and your baby into our lives. We hope to get to know you very soon!
While you shouldn't panic about a drink or two consumed before you knew you were pregnant, you should also stop drinking immediately. Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, so the "safe" amount of fetal alcohol exposure could be very different from one woman to the next. Alcohol travels quickly through the bloodstream and across the placenta, entering the baby's bloodstream at about the same concentration present in mom's blood. But the baby takes twice as long to eliminate alcohol from the body as adults do, so while you're pleasantly buzzed, your baby could be at the point of passing out.
Fetal alcohol exposure can cause a number of serious, lifelong problems for the baby. The chances of miscarriage or stillbirth increase. As little as one drink a day can result in a low birth weight and raise the chances that your baby will have trouble down the road with learning, speech, attention span, language, and hyperactivity. Some research has shown pregnant women who have as little as one drink per week may have babies who later exhibit aggressive and delinquent behavior.
The most severe risk associated with fetal alcohol exposure is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The FAS child grows poorly, both before and after birth. Abnormal facial features, including small heads and brains, and defects of the heart, spine, and other areas are also possible. Damage to the central nervous system could lead to mental retardation, delays in physical development, vision and hearing problems, and behavioral problems.
Both frequent (seven or more drinks/week) and binge drinking (five or more at any one time) increase the chances that your baby will be born with FAS. But any amount of fetal alcohol exposure puts your baby at risk for FAS or other problems.
Fetal alcohol exposure is one of the main preventable causes of birth defects and developmental problems in the United States. Talk to your medical practitioner about any alcohol consumed before you knew you were pregnant, and play it safe by abstaining for the rest of your pregnancy.