Alcohol During Pregnancy

The number of pregnant women consuming alcohol is on the rise in recent years, despite the health risks. About 1 in 9 women in the U.S. drinks alcohol while pregnant, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4% of pregnant women binge drink, which is having four or more drinks at one occasion.

Clear Advice: No amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, your baby may be at risk of lifelong birth defects. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol enters her bloodstream and passes to her baby through the placenta.

No types of drinks are safe during pregnancy: not beer, wine, mixed drink, or liquor shots.

If you are trying to get pregnant, you should not drink.

If you drank alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, your baby may still be healthy, but let your doctor know and stop drinking right away.

Light/Moderate Drinking: What’s the Risk?

There is no safe amount or type of alcohol use during pregnancy. Even moderate drinking (one drink per occasion) can cause lifelong problems for your baby. These problems may be less obvious than those caused by heavy drinking. They may include problems with:

  • Coordination
  • Behavior
  • Attention
  • Learning
  • Understanding Consequences

Heavy Drinking: What’s the Risk?

Heavy Drinking is having more than three drinks per occasion, or more than seven drinks in one week. The most severe result of heavy drinking during pregnancy is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS can cause serious birth defects for your baby, including:

  • Problems with brain development
  • Lower-than-average height and weight
  • Smaller-than-normal head size
  • Abnormal facial features

Drinking may raise the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm birth
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

If you normally drink four or more alcoholic drinks at a time on a frequent basis, please speak with your gynecologist at your prenatal visit. It may be wise to get a little help to ensure that you don’t slip up and consume alcohol during your pregnancy. Free resources are available, and we can help you access them.

If you anticipate that it will be difficult for you to stop drinking, you can also visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website at or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment referral line at 800-662-HELP (4357).

Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Posted on June 19, 2019

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