Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
9 September is International Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day
World Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Day is celebrated each year at nine minutes past nine on the ninth day of the ninth month to draw attention to the fact that women should not drink alcohol for the nine months whilst pregnant. South Africa is considered to have the highest reported prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) in the world.
Why is alcohol consumption dangerous during pregnancy or while you are trying to conceive?
Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, low birthweight and a range of lifelong physical, behavioural, and intellectual disabilities in the baby. These disabilities are known as FASDs.
People who drink while pregnant not only put their developing baby at risk, but may also put their own health at risk, due to effects such as:
- Vomiting and dehydration.
- High blood pressure.
- Nutritional deficiency.
- Gestational diabetes.
What are Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASDs)?
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. FASDs are preventable if a baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth.
The alcohol the mother drinks easily enters the unborn baby’s bloodstream through the placenta causing damage to the developing baby as the baby does not have a fully developed liver and cannot process alcohol. Alcohol present in a developing baby’s bloodstream can interfere with the development of the brain and other critical organs, structures, and physiological systems. FAS children will have physical, behavioural and intellectual problems. Such damage is permanent and irreversible.
What is a safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy?
- The latest research on alcohol and pregnancy says there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy.
- All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including wine and beer.
- The risk to your developing baby is highest when you frequently drink or when you drink high levels of alcohol (binge drinking).
- There is evidence to suggest that even low-level drinking, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy, can result in long-term negative effects to the baby.
- Every pregnant person and their developing baby are different, so there’s no way to tell how your alcohol consumption will affect your developing baby.
- The best time to stop drinking is when you’re planning on becoming pregnant.
- If you consume alcohol do not fall pregnant. Use contraceptives correctly.
- When you are planning to fall pregnant or become pregnant stop all types of drinking immediately.