Warning About Alcohol For Mums-To-Be

9 September 2010, 05:30

Would you share a glass of wine with your baby?

That's the message from the NHS today.

The service is trying to encourage pregnant mothers or women trying to conceive about the long term health problems drinking alcohol can cause to an unborn child

Some of the symptoms of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which is caused when pregnant mothers drink alcohol, include children being born underweight, heart and kidney problems, physical deformities or permanent brain damage.

It is the biggest cause of non-genetic mental handicap in the western world and it is estimated that nearly one in every 100 live births in the USA and Europe is born with foetal alcohol syndrome.

The main effect of FAS is permanent central nervous system damage, especially to the brain. The risk of brain damage exists during each trimester, since the foetal brain develops throughout the entire pregnancy. The severity of the abnormality depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. The damage caused to the baby during pregnancy is irreversible. 

On Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day, NHS Suffolk is encouraging pregnant mothers and those planning to become pregnant to be aware of the dangers of consuming alcohol.

Dr Mashbileg Maidrag, Consultant in Public Health said: “ The consequences of drinking alcohol when pregnant can be catastrophic. When you drink, the alcohol passes from your bloodstream, through the placenta and into your baby’s blood.  In the early stages of pregnancy this can result in miscarriage. Many studies suggest a link between alcohol and both male and female infertility”.

“It is important for pregnant mothers to realise that alcohol consumption could result in life-long health problems for the child.  The best way to ensure your new baby is fit and healthy is not to drink during pregnancy at all.

“Also, if you are trying to conceive the best way of improving your chances is by cutting out alcohol.

“We understand that pregnancy and new motherhood can be a difficult and stressful time and pouring yourself a glass of wine to help relax may be tempting. However, it’s important to remember that you will be sharing that drink with your baby.”

She also told Heart that it wasn't about trying to scare people: "If you've had one or two glasses of wine, okay it's done anyway so try not to have more and if you are having alcohol - try to limit it. If you drink less, the impact will be less. As I said, if you've had a couple of drinks, okay stop that. Try to limit it if you can't stop really drinking. If you limit your drinking there will be less impact on the child."