Saturday, December 4

How Alcohol Consumption Affects the Fetus During Pregnancy

It is clear that consuming alcohol is not a healthy option for anyone, but even less so in the case of pregnant women.

Alcohol produces malformations in the embryo (it is a teratogenic agent) and can cause permanent damage to the fetus.

Any alcoholic beverage crosses the placenta very quickly, leaving the fetus completely exposed to the same or even higher concentrations of alcohol than the mother’s.

In fact, specialists explain that drinking during pregnancy can cause ‘Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)’. It is a wide range of permanent physical, mental, behavioral and cognitive abnormalities that a person can present when they have been exposed to alcohol during their pregnancy.

These conditions are difficult to diagnose, can range from mild to severe, and will last a lifetime. They can have physical, behavioral and intellectual repercussions.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is its most extreme manifestation. Affected children have facial irregularities (smooth nasolabial fold, thin upper lip, horizontal eye opening); growth deficit and central nervous system problems.

But fortunately all of these problems are completely avoidable, because the only cause of FAS is alcohol.

For this reason, it is essential that both pregnant women and those who wish to become pregnant do not consume alcohol during the entire pregnancy, and even from the moment they plan their pregnancy.

How TEAF is produced

The scientific evidence is clear regarding the serious effect that prenatal alcohol exposure produces on physical, brain and behavioral development.

There is no known amount of consumption that can be considered safe for the fetus, so health professionals should advise against alcohol consumption during any time of pregnancy.

Alcohol can cause problems for the baby even before a woman knows she is pregnant.

In addition, some studies have observed that alcohol consumption by men in the preconception period can also have an impact on children’s health. Likewise, alcohol consumption during pregnancy by the couple can have an impact on the mother’s alcohol consumption.

Importance of TEAF and prevention strategies

The TEAF has major implications throughout the life course of the affected person, their family and society, with significant personal and financial consequences. In neighboring countries, it is considered the most common acquired and preventable cause of neurodevelopmental disorder. Therefore, its prevention is essential, as well as its early detection and care.

TEAF is 100% preventable and is the responsibility of all people and society as a whole. Sometimes, the social context does not help and it is important that pregnant women have the support of their partner and environment, and accompany them avoiding alcohol consumption.

In addition, the early diagnosis of FASD is essential because it can improve the functional and vital prognosis of these children and the effectiveness of early care.

Likewise, it allows families, as well as professionals in the environment, to develop intervention plans appropriate to the needs of the child or adolescent.

Breastfeeding: 0 alcohol

In relation to women who are breastfeeding, scientific evidence does not allow us to identify a zero or safe level of risk in relation to alcohol consumption, therefore, the safest option for babies is that lactating women do not consume alcohol.

In relation to pregnancy and lactation, it must be borne in mind that all types of alcoholic beverages are equally harmful, even wine and beer. Beer “without” is also not recommended.

According to the legislation, “non-alcoholic” beer contains less than 1% by volume of alcohol (generally 0.6-0.9%).

Beer 0.0%, although it is not defined in the legislation and it is understood that it should not contain alcohol, it could have up to 0.04%, since the alcohol extraction processes are not perfect.

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