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The effects of alcohol on the fetus

Alcohol is a dangerous drug, although its distribution is legal. In particular, during pregnancy you must be very careful to ingest it. The effects of alcohol on the fetus can become very serious and remain for a lifetime.

There is a direct relationship between maternal alcoholism and various anomalies in morphology and the development of the new being. Therefore, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has insisted that a pregnant woman should not consume alcohol.

The effects of alcohol on the fetus give rise to very serious birth deficiencies. A single ingestion of this drug is capable of causing permanent damage to the child. It could cause brain damage and alter behavior, even into adolescence.

The dangers of alcohol

The consumption of alcohol always entails risks. This substance is a depressant of the central nervous system . It has sedative effects, very similar to those produced by barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

The effects of alcohol on the fetus

Alcohol is a toxic substance that in large quantities can lead to death. When ingested, it begins to circulate through the blood and reaches all the organs. This results in problems with intracellular respiration , neurotransmitter production and metabolism .

The effects of alcohol on the fetus are unpredictable. Therefore, there is no known amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, without taking risks. There is also no time of pregnancy in which it is safe to ingest this drug.

This is because the baby’s brain develops throughout the pregnancy . From day one, until the end of it. That development can be affected if the mother drinks liquor. Therefore, the prohibition to consume it is absolute.

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The effects of alcohol on the fetus

The fetus depends entirely on the mother. The alcohol in the blood of the mother passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. This can cause from a miscarriage to severe disabilities in the child . Such disabilities are known by the generic name of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The main effects of alcohol on the fetus can be the following:

  • Malformations on the face . Basically, face flat and wide, small head, minor deformations in the ears, broad and low nasal bridge, Mongoloid eyes, short and pointed nose and fissures in the eyelids.
  • Deficit in development . The children of mothers who consume alcohol tend to have less weight and size than normal. The brain does not evolve normally and this often causes mental deficiencies and learning.
  • Damage to the nervous system . They range from small mental anomalies, to severe mental retardation. Likewise, behavioral problems and permanent alterations of motor functions may appear.
  • Deformations Sometimes larger structural anomalies appear. For example, malformations of the heart, or skeletal, ocular, kidney or genital problems or deformations in the extremities.
The effects of alcohol on the fetus

It should be noted that the children of mothers who drink alcohol tend to be more irritable, restless and scattered . Up to 20% of cases of deformities of children at birth are due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

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Prevent and avoid

We already know that the effects of alcohol on the fetus are very serious. The good news is that it is a situation that can be avoided or prevented . If a woman plans to carry a pregnancy, she should be aware that she will not be able to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Under no circumstances and in any quantity.

Some women believe that there will be no consequence if they drink low alcohol drinks. This is false. As already noted, even a small amount of this substance can affect a child for life. The effects of that damage are irreversible.

The problem is that an adult who consumes alcohol has developed a certain tolerance to this type of substance. Your body assimilates and then eliminates that toxin in a relatively short time. The fetus, on the other hand, takes twice as long to perform this process.

If a woman has alcohol problems, she should avoid becoming pregnant . If you are already pregnant and discover that you have problems with drinking, you should seek help immediately. Your life and that of your child are at risk.


  • Ornoy A. The effects of alcohol and illicit drugs on the human embryo and fetus. Isr. J. Psychiatry Relat. Sci. 2002; 39: 120-132.
  • Jones KL, Smith DW. Recognition of the fetal alcohol syndrome in early infancy. Lancet. 1973; :999. 2 : 999.
  • Lemoine P, Harousseau H, Borteyru JP, Menuet JC. Children of alcoholic parents-observed anomalies: discussion of 127 cases. Ther. Drug Monit. 2003; :132–136. 25 : 132-136.

The effects of alcohol on the fetus