Drinking alcohol during pregnancy: what are the risks to the baby?A mother's drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth,
and a range of physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities for the baby
that can last a lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
(FASDs). Some of the behavioral and intellectual disabilities of people with
- difficulty with
- speech and
- low IQ
- poor reasoning
and judgment skills
A baby born
with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), one condition in the FASD spectrum, has a
small head, weighs less than other babies, and has distinctive facial features.
Organs can also be affected by drinking alcohol during pregnancy, especially
the heart and kidneys.
Things You Should Know about Drinking Alcohol during Pregnancy
is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get
many women continue to drink during pregnancy. About 1 in 13 pregnant women in
the United States reports alcohol use in the past 30 days. And about 1 in 71
pregnant women in the United States reports binge drinking in the past 30 days
(having four or more drinks at one time).
are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Why take the risk?
Is it okay to drink a little or at certain
times during pregnancy?
There is no known
safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or when you are trying to get
pregnant. All drinks with alcohol can
affect a baby's growth and development and cause FASDs. A 5-ounce glass of red
or white wine has the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can of beer or a
1.5-ounce shot of straight liquor. All
types of alcohol-even wine, wine coolers, and beer-can harm your developing
Is it okay to drink alcohol if I am
trying to get pregnant?
The best advice is
to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant. This is because
many women become pregnant and do not know it right away. It may be up to 4 to
6 weeks before you know for sure. This means you might be drinking and exposing
your developing baby to alcohol without meaning to. Alcohol use during
pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
What can I do to help myself stop drinking alcohol?Ask your health care provider for help. Together, you can develop a
strategy for you to quit drinking. Here are some additional tips:
say to others who offer you alcohol or expect you to drink?
- "No thanks, I'm pregnant and I'll pass."
- "I'll have a club soda with lime."
- Or just say, "No thanks," and change the subject.
Staying social without drinking
- Hang out with people who will help you not to drink
alcohol. Ask them if they would not drink alcohol around you.
- Avoid risky places and situations such as bars and
clubs. At parties, stay away from the drinks table. Stick with those who aren't
Other helpful tips
- If you smoke, quit. Cigarettes increase your
craving to drink. Smoking is also dangerous for your developing baby.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get some exercise: take a walk, dance, go for a
- Keep stress away:
- Take a long bath
- Take some deep breaths
- Be proud of yourself for doing all you can to have
a healthy baby.
For Assistance, Referrals & More InformationThe organizations and resources below can provide you with more information on
FASDs and alcohol use during pregnancy:
for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/fasd or call 800-CDC-INFO
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD
Center for Excellence www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov
If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and cannot stop
drinking, the following organizations and resources can help:
Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) www.nofas.org or
call 800-66-NOFAS (66327)
- Substance Abuse
Treatment Facility Locator www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 800-622-HELP (4357)
- March of Dimes www.marchofdimes.com
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism www.niaaa.nih.gov
Developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)