Alcohol use in pregnancy – what are the dangers?

By August 22, 2015Pregnancy

Ever wondered why you should never drink during your pregnancy 한컴2010 다운로드? We asked Dr Lynelle Hoeks to give us the low-down on the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) worldwide, with an estimated prevalence of up to 200 per 1000 children who are affected in hot spots –such as certain rural areas in the Western Cape.

The effects of alcohol on a developing child can result in full blown FAS or have a more subtle (but no less serious) effect- a spectrum of disability called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). When a child is exposed to alcohol while still in the womb this results in brain damage and numerous physical issues – NO amount of alcohol is safe.

What happens when you drink while pregnant?

As the alcohol gets into your blood stream, it crosses the placenta and goes directly to your baby. Unable to process alcohol with a still developing liver, the effects of the alcohol are increased for your baby – which means even what you see as a small amount is harmful. The sensitive developing organs are badly damaged and the more alcohol exposure, the worse the damage.

What are the symptoms of FAS?

Children born with classical FAS typically have the following features

  • A distinctive facial appearance- wide set eyes, a very thin upper lip, a small upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip
  • Poor growth, usually very small and do not thrive well
  • Small head and brain
  • Heart defects that can be life threatening
  • Learning difficulties, hyperactivity, struggle with co-ordination
  • Poor social skills and often end up in trouble with the law when they are older
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Because the effects of alcohol are so varied and differ from child to child the term FASD has come about to include the wide presentations. Children with FASD can have a variety of mental, emotional and physical problems which affect their ability to learn, socially interact and lead a successful life. Issues such as ADHD, substance misuse, aggression, and depression and anxiety disorders tend to appear as they get older.

It’s clear that the effects of alcohol on the developing child are serious and irreversible and alcohol use in pregnancy should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately poverty and extreme social difficulties cause many women to self medicate with alcohol and other substances to cope.

Saying this, it is not exclusively a condition seen in poverty stricken areas, it happens across all social classes as alcohol has become such an acceptable and integral part of many people’s lives. If you or someone you know has an alcohol problem and is pregnant please seek medical assistance as soon as you can.

If you’re pregnant and in need of some advice or daily tips, sign-up to our Pregnancy Health Tip module. Just SMS PREG to 44388.