Thursday, January 19, 2012

End of First Trimester is Worst Time to Drink Alcohol

freefoto.com
It's generally considered common knowledge that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) but little is known about how much alcohol and at which point during a woman's pregnancy the damage is done. Results of a long-term study have recently helped to pinpoint some of the details behind the disorder.

Over 900 women were recruited between 1975 and 2005 by researchers when they called a helpline in California to find out more about harmful substances during pregnancy. They were asked about how much alcohol they consumed at several points throughout their pregnancy and then their babies were examined for signs of FAS after birth. Doctors who examined the babies were unaware of which of the babies' mothers had drank. The conclusion of the research was that for each additional drink imbibed daily during pregnancy, there was an increased chance of the baby having a misshaped head, malformed lips or eyes. These symptoms also suggest neurological disorders.

The point at which women drank during their pregnancies had an influence as well. Women who drank at the end of the first trimester were more likely to have babies with symptoms of FAS and the risk increased for each extra drink they consumed a day. Each extra drink equated to a 25% increased risk of a malformed lip, a 12% increase in a smaller-than-normal head, and a 16% increase in low birth weight. In contrast, each extra drink consumed during the third trimester only correlated with a smaller length at birth.

Although the study sheds some light on a time when the fetus is more vulnerable to the influence of alcohol, still so much of how alcohol effects the fetus is unknown. It's unclear how some women who binge drink will have babies with no evident problems, while other babies will develop FAS. However, researchers attribute differences in body fat, diet, environment and genetics. Due to the individualized chances of developing FAS, it's still advisable that pregnant women avoid alcohol consumption altogether.

Do you indulge in the occasional glass of wine?


Alcohol Risk to Fetus Is Highest at End of 1st Trimester [MyHealthDailyNews]