When you're pregnant and drink alcohol:
- Alcohol enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta
- Alcohol causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does
- Alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your baby's developing tissues and organs, including the brain
The more you drink while pregnant, the greater the risk to your unborn baby. Your baby's brain, heart and blood vessels begin to develop in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may know you're pregnant.
Impairment of facial features, the heart and other organs, including the bones, and the central nervous system may occur as a result of drinking alcohol during the first trimester. That's when these parts of the fetus are in key stages of development. However, the risk is present at any time during pregnancy.
Jun. 02, 2014
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/index.html. Accessed March 6, 2014.
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- Effects of alcohol on a fetus. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/grabGo/factSheets.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2014.
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- Landgraf MN, et al. The diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome. Deutsches Arztebaltt International. 2013;110:703.
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- Petrenko CL, et al. Prevention of secondary conditions in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Identification of systems-level barriers. Maternal and Child Health Journal. In press. Accessed March 6, 2014.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2014.
- Tervo RC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 11, 2014.
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