Question and Answer

I just found out that I'm pregnant. When the doctor told me, he warned me not to drink anything with alcohol in it until the child is born. I'm used to having a few beers after work, and I like a cocktail several times a week. Is it really necessary for me to give up all alcohol until my baby arrives?

I urge you to heed the advice of your physician.

That precious baby inside of you could be severely damaged if you continue to drink in the next few months. Your child could have what is known as "fetal alcohol syndrome," which can cause heart anomalies, central nervous system dysfunction, head and facial abnormalities, and lifelong behavior problems. Fetal alcohol syndrome is also thought to be the leading cause of mental retardation.1 It is a terrible thing to inflict on a child.

Babies can be harmed by alcohol in the blood of the mother at any time throughout gestation, but they are especially vulnerable during the first trimester. That's why you should not drink during the remaining seven months of your pregnancy, but by all means, don't swallow a drop of alcohol right now.

You may remember the Old Testament story of Samson, who terrorized his enemies, the Philistines. Before he was born, his mother was told by an angel that her child was destined for greatness and that she must not weaken him by imbibing strong drink while she was pregnant. Medical science has now verified the wisdom of that advice. That's why a similar warning to pregnant women is posted by law wherever liquor, beer, or wine is sold.

For you and for all pregnant women and those who anticipate becoming pregnant -- don't take chances with your babies' future. There is no level of alcohol that is known to be safe. Abstain for the entire nine months. You and your baby will be glad you did.

1 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Factsheet, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

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