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Alcohol and Pregnancy

By Shanon A. Forseter, MD, OB-GYN

Pregnancy and Alcohol - St. Louis Health and Wellness MagazineIf you are pregnant and take a drink – a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail – your unborn child takes the same drink. Whatever you eat or drink while pregnant goes directly through your bloodstream into the placenta.

Some experts say moderate drinking during pregnancy is okay, but there are others who believe taking even one drink is like playing Russian roulette with your baby’s health.

If you’re having a drink your baby is too.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develops in some unborn babies when the mother drinks “too much” alcohol during pregnancy. The problem is nobody is certain just how much “too much” is.

A baby born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can have serious handicaps and therefore could require a lifetime of special care. There is even some research that indicates that women who plan to get pregnant should stop drinking before they even conceive.

Permanent Effects
These effects are not temporary; they can cause a lifetime of physical and emotional pain -not to mention expense. It is a large price to pay for a few drinks during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, don’t take a chance with your baby’s future; stop drinking immediately.

If you are pregnant and drinking, your unborn child is not the only one at risk. Research shows that women who drink face more health problems than men who drink the same amount.

Potential Problems

For those who might think drinking during pregnancy is no big deal, here is a list of the potential problems their newborns could be facing as a result, according to Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse:

  • Small body size and weight
  • Slower than normal development and failure to “catch up.”
  • Deformed ribs and sternum
  • Curved spine and hip dislocations
  • Bent, fused, webbed, or missing fingers or toes
  • Limited movement of joints
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities
  • Small eye openings
  • Skin webbing between eyes and base of nose
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Nearsightedness
  • Failure of eyes to move in same direction
  • Short upturned nose
  • Sunken nasal bridge
  • Flat or absent groove between nose and upper lip
  • Thin upper lip
  • Opening in roof of mouth
  • Small jaw
  • Low-set or poorly formed ears
  • Organ deformities
  • Heart defects or heart murmurs
  • Genital malformations
  • Kidney and urinary defects
  • Central nervous system handicaps
  • Small brain
  • Faulty arrangement of brain cells and connective tissue
  • Mental retardation – occasionally severe
  • Learning disabilities
  • Short attention span
  • Irritability in infancy
  • Hyperactivity in childhood
  • Poor body, hand, and finger coordination


Shanon A. Forseter, MD, OB-GYN
522 North New Ballas Rd, Suite 201
Creve Coeur, MO 63141

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