Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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No Amount of Alcohol is Safe to Drink During Pregnancy

Remember everything that passes through your lips will go to your child. That’s why it is so important to eat nutritious food and avoid all alcohol during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Why Alcohol Is Dangerous

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes through the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) (Source: CDC’s FASD Homepage: “Alcohol Use in Pregnancy”).

There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.

Women also should not drink alcohol if they are planning to become pregnant or are sexually active and do not use effective birth control. This is because a woman could become pregnant and not know for several weeks or more. In the United States half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

FASDs are 100% preventable. If a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her child cannot have an FASD (Source: CDC’s FASD Homepage: “Alcohol Use in Pregnancy” )

5 Things You Should Know about Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with birth defects and have disabilities. These conditions, called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs, are among the top preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities. FASDs can cause problems in how a person grows, learns, looks an dacts. FASDs can also cause birth defects of the heart, brain, and other major organs. These problems last a lifetime.

There is no known amount of acohol that is safe to drink while pregnant. All drinks with alcohol can hurt an unborn baby. A 12-ounce can of beer has as much alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1-ounce shot of liquor.

There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can harm a baby at any time during pregnancy. It can cause problems in the ealry weeks of pregnancy, before a woman evne knows she is pregnant.

Too many women continue to drink during pregnancy. About one in eight pregnant women in the United States reports alcohol use in the past 30 days. And about one in 50 pregnant women in the United States reports binge drinking in the past 30 days (having five or more drinks at home at one time).

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable – if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant.

(Source: CDC’s “Information for Women”)

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) is the name given to a group of conditions that a person can have if that person’s mother drank alcohol while she was pregnant. These conditions include physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person has a mix of these problems. FASDs are a leading known cause of intellectual disability and birth defects (Source: CDC’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Factsheet ).

For more information visit:

Local Resources

For help in quitting drinking, talk to your obstetrician or call the Alcohol & Other Drugs  Program (AODP) and Women in Need of Drug Free Opportunities (WINDO):

Al-Anon and Alateen: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org

Maternal and Child Health Collaborations:

  • Mendocino County Office of Education Pregnant and Parenting Teens Program
  • National Healthy Mothers
  • Healthy Babies Coalition – text4baby
  • Partnership for Healthy Babies Coalition
  • Breastfeeding Coalition
  • Children’s Action Committee
  • Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency (Public Health Nursing Department, Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Program, Prevention and Planning Unit, Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, and Women, Infant & Children Program)