When a woman drinks alcohol to excess during pregnancy, her infant may be born with developmental delays and various physical abnormalities. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can interfere with normal infant brain development and cause a range of other disorders that, taken together, are called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that FAS effects are seen in between 0.2 to 1.5 infants out of every 1,000 live births in the United States each year.
Any type of substance abuse will have a negative effect on a developing fetus, and drinking alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable developmental disabilities and birth defects. Mother and baby are connected through the placenta, and alcohol can pass through it to the infant, where it takes longer to break down, staying in the baby’s body and causing damage.
Common FAS Effects
Low birth weight and premature birth are common outcomes of fetal alcohol syndrome. Premature babies have a higher chance of being born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation, and they face a greater risk of infection. The genetic makeup of a mother and child also affects the amount of harm caused by substance abuse during pregnancy.
Some other FAS effects are skeletal malformations, inhibited central nervous system growth, facial abnormalities and problems with major organs such as the heart and brain. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the number one cause of nongenetic mental retardation, and it can be prevented by not consuming alcohol. Even if you have been drinking at the beginning of your pregnancy, from the moment you stop, you are improving your baby’s health and well-being.
Alcoholism is the desire to drink alcohol to excess. It’s a disease of addiction, not a character flaw. It can be hard to break the compulsion to drink, even if you’re pregnant and know that drinking could be harmful to your baby. Alcoholism is often influenced by stress and life difficulties, and it can seem like a way out for a short time, although the long-term effects are harmful.
Drinking also causes strong physical cravings in a person addicted to alcohol, and resisting the longing for a drink can lead to unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. For most people addicted to alcohol, breaking that dependence can seem like an impossible task. The underlying factors that lead to alcoholism, such as personal or family problems, need to be addressed along with the disease to successfully eradicate it.
If you’re unable to stop drinking to excess, you’re not alone. Millions of people in the United States are in the grip of alcoholism, and if it’s left untreated, addiction can lead to personal crises such as job loss, divorce and injury. You may also experience physical problems caused by drinking too much. If you’re pregnant, these issues don’t affect just you but put your developing baby at risk as well.
In many people, long-term dependence on alcohol leads to high blood pressure or hypertension, and that’s an especially severe risk factor during pregnancy. It can lead to a dangerous condition called preeclampsia that affects both you and your baby. Often, you don’t even have symptoms, but high blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure, among other dangers.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a female who drinks four or more drinks five or more times in a month has an alcohol use disorder. Regular consumption of alcohol can have negative effects on the body, and trying to stop drinking can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea and vomiting. Physical issues can also include a spike in blood pressure, seizures and difficulty breathing.
Withdrawal causes mental and emotional distress as well. Some people who try to stop drinking by themselves experience depression, mood swings, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Withdrawal can be brutal, and these physical and mental symptoms will affect your infant more if you try to stop drinking abruptly without medical assistance.
We are a substance abuse and mental health facility that has helped people like you break the bonds of alcohol addiction for good. FHE Health provides inpatient and outpatient treatment guided by our medical and psychiatric specialists. To free yourself from the compulsion to drink, it’s important to deal with all aspects of your situation, including family dynamics, personal issues and your own unique life challenges.
Seeking professional help to beat alcoholism is easier than trying to do it on your own. It’s best to get the help you need in a safe environment with medical supervision to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. Having access to treatment makes the ordeal easier to bear, and we can give you medical assistance as needed and support from experienced and caring addiction counselors.
Take the First Step
If you have tried to stop drinking on your own unsuccessfully, the next step to take is getting help. You’ll be helping yourself and ensuring your baby has the best chance for a happy, healthy life. Often, fetal alcohol syndrome causes birth defects, including mental retardation and serious speech and hearing problems. With compassionate help, you can put aside anxiety about your infant’s development and make your own life much better as well.
Residential care is one treatment option. Being away from the issues that trigger your compulsion to drink will help you deal with the hard work of recovery. The stress and anxiety of daily life can be put on the back burner while you discover and use the best tools for beating your addiction. The inability to stop drinking is a disease, and you deserve professional care by clinicians who will use the most current research and treatment methods to help you overcome alcoholism.
Getting help for your drinking problem starts with picking up the phone. If you’re tired of trying to quit on your own and worried about the effects of alcohol on your baby, we’re here to help. Our caring intake counselors are available 24 hours every day to take your call and help you take the first step on the road to recovery. Call 833-596-3502 and let us help you and your baby have a brighter and healthier future.