During pregnancy, the fetus receives all its nutrition from the mother. So, if the mother consumes alcohol then it will reach the baby too. As the fetal system is not very well developed it cannot break down alcohol at a fast rate.
Thus, it gets accumulated in the baby leading to various disorders such as mental and physical birth defects. The symptoms manifest themselves either in the form of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. If you drink alcohol and are planning to conceive then you should definitely read this article to learn about the effects of alcohol on babies.
The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome(FAS)
Some of the common symptoms of babies who are affected by fetal alcohol syndrome include low birth weight, small head circumference, delay in growth and development, abnormalities in face, epilepsy, failure to thrive, poor mental health, anxiety, behavioral problems and inability to concentrate. These symptoms increase in intensity as the child grows. Not all children show all these symptoms. Some show normal growth and development but have emotional and behavioral problems. Such children remain undiagnosed.
Causes Of FAS
When alcohol crosses the placenta, then it interferes with the oxygen supply to the fetus resulting in poor cell development. This in turn results in poor development of the brain and other organelles in the fetus and thus, the babies develop the symptoms earlier.
Factors Influencing The Effect Of Alcohol On Babies
The intensity of the symptoms of alcohol on babies, however, depends on the amount of alcohol consumption, frequency of intake and the stage of pregnancy. Having five or more drinks at a time even once during pregnancy can cause severe defects in the child. The effects of alcohol are higher in women who smoke, have poor health and use other drugs.
There are, in fact, some babies that are highly sensitive and get adversely affected even with small amounts of alcohol, in comparison to other babies. If you are unaware of your pregnancy and are continuing to consume alcohol, stop drinking the moment you know that you are pregnant. It is never too late. You can at the very least reduce the risk of affecting your child further.
Effects Of Alcohol In Infants
Pregnant as well as lactating women can be adversely affected by alcohol consumption. However, lactating women are not as adversely affected as their pregnant counterparts. Increased intake of alcoholic beverages by lactating mothers inhibits milk production. If you have had a drink, it is advisable not to breastfeed your baby for at least two hours as the alcohol concentration in the blood, and thus the milk, remains high during this period.
If a new born is breastfed with milk containing alcohol then there is risk of developing health complications as the liver is not yet mature enough to detoxify alcohol. By three months of age, the liver can detoxify alcohol to a certain extent. An infant who is fed with alcohol contaminated milk shows abnormal sleep-wake patterns.
The child’s ability to gain weight is also reduced to a large extent. As in the case of fetal alcohol syndrome, infants that are fed by alcoholic mothers also show poor motor development. Therefore, if you are addicted to alcohol then get the help of your doctor, friends or family members to quit alcohol and then consider getting pregnant. This will ensure that you and your baby are protected.