During the third trimester of pregnancy a developing fetus grows quickly and gains weight rapidly. The brain and central nervous system are in an important stage of development. Harmful substances, such as alcohol, can affect the growing baby’s development at any time during pregnancy.

Researchers have been unable to fully explain how much alcohol is considered too much” or how many drinks are considered safe during pregnancy. However, it is known that if a woman drinks alcohol at any time during her pregnancy, it crosses the placenta to the fetus which is then exposed to the alcohol. One reason alcohol can be so harmful is because the amniotic fluid keeps the alcohol contained; exposing the fetus to alcohol much longer than the mother is exposed. Another reason is because the baby’s metabolism is different from the mother’s. The alcohol stays in the baby’s body for much longer than it would in an adult body. Since experts have been unable to determine what a safe level of alcohol is during pregnancy, a better-safe-than-sorry approach might be best.

Alcohol is considered to be the most common way a fetus can suffer damage while in the womb. 9 out of 1,000 babies are born with some degree of alcohol exposure and suffer some type of negative side-effect. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the medical diagnosis used to describe a range of negative side-effects to the baby when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Within FASD are the more commonly known Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects. They all cause side effects and disabilities that are permanent and can affect social, emotional, and physical development throughout the lifespan.

Possible side-effects of alcohol exposure:

  • Higher risk of miscarriage
  • Lower birth weight and/or delayed growth
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental retardation (10-20% of I.Q."s 50-80 range caused by prenatal alcohol exposure)
  • Struggles with problem solving
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorders
  • Behavior and anger problems
  • Higher risk of chronic health conditions and other medical problems (1 in 6 cases of cerebral palsy directly associated with prenatal alcohol exposure)

    Alcohol During Third Trimester