Pregnancy and Alcohol

alcohol and pregnancy
When you consume alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby because alcohol passes freely through the placenta to your baby. If you choose to drink alcohol while you are pregnant, you will increase the risk that your baby will be born with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are the full spectrum of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Up to 40,0000 babies are born with a FASD each year in the U.S.

Facts About Pregnancy and Alcohol:

Alcohol is a teratogen

Teratogen is a substance known to be harmful to human development.

Alcohol crosses the placenta to your baby

When you drink alcohol, so does your baby. Because babies are small compared to adults, alcohol breaks down much more slowly than in a grown person.  This means that alcohol remains in a baby’s blood much longer than in the blood of its mother thus leading to possible irreversible harm to the baby’s development.

All drinks containing alcohol can harm your baby

There is no known safe amount of alcohol that you can consume if you are pregnant. It is best to discuss any drinking patterns with your healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and Alcohol: Effects on the Baby

Your baby is in a constant state of growth and development over the entire course of your pregnancy.

During the first four weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s heart, central nervous system, eyes, arms, and legs are developing. Your baby’s brain begins to develop around the third week and continues to mature through the rest of your pregnancy. During the third trimester, your baby will be growing rapidly. If you consume an excessive amount of alcohol during these crucial stages of development, you can cause serious harm to your baby.

Results of excessive drinking (drinking on a regular basis or binge drinking) can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects. These are lifetime, irreversible effects that can result in physical, mental and neurobehavioral birth defects.

What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?

If you were not aware that you were pregnant and drank alcohol, the best thing you can do now is to STOP drinking immediately. The sooner you quit, the better. If you stop drinking now, the risk of harm will decrease.

Is there any safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy?

There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to consume while pregnant and the more you drink, the more you will increase the risk that your baby will have problems. According to the Surgeon General, the type of drinking that creates the greatest risk of FASD’s is binge drinking (drinking more than 5 drinks at one time), or drinking seven or more drinks in one week. Drinking less than this amount has also been known to lead to FASD. This is why we we regard any amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy as being unsafe.

Need help with an addiction?

If you are pregnant and are also addicted to alcohol, you can get help from the following organizations:

  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information (800-729-6686)
  • National Alcohol & Drug HopeLine 1-800-NCA-CALL (622-2255)

If you would like to learn more about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome you can call the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at 1-800-66-NOFAS (666-6327)

Last Updated: 01/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/

Department of Health & Human Services, http://www.hhs.gov/

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The French Paradox, vitamin K2 the key

The French Paradox, the claim the French lived longer than Americans because they drink more red wine was put forward by Dr Serge Renaud in the 1990’s. He said red wine had nutrients like resveratrol which helped reduce heart disease. Even though the French had  more dairy products like cheese, in their diet

This claim has since been debunked because you would have to drink so much red wine to get enough of these nutrients, to increase the risk  of other diseases like cirrhosis. The research did highlight the presence of vitamin K2 in the French diet.  Vitamin K2 is a known factor in reduced levels of heart disease. The vitamin is to be found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products.

The French diet is rich in vitamin K2

In her 2012 book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, Canadian nutritionist Kate Rhéume-Bleue proposes that the explanation for the lower rate of cardiovascular disease in France is the high level of vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) in some of the fattier foods that form a part of the French diet. Lack of vitamin K2 in the diet is linked to increased calcification of plaques in artery walls.

Rhéume-Bleue writes,

The French Paradox isn’t a paradox at all. The very same pâté de foie gras, egg yolks and creamy, buttery sauces that we inaccurately labeled “heart attack on a plate“ literally supply the single most important nutrient to protect heart health.[23]

As one example, Rhéume-Bleue points to the fact that a 3 ½-ounce serving of goose liver pate contains 369 micrograms of menaquinone, while a 3 ½-ounce serving of pan-fried calf liver of the kind frequently eaten in North America contains only 6 micrograms of menaquinone.[24]

The French diet is rich in short-chain saturated fatty acids and poor in trans fats

In his 2009 book Cholesterol and The French Paradox, Frank Cooper argues that the French paradox is due to the lack of hydrogenated and trans fats in the French diet.[25] The French diet is based on natural saturated fats such as butter, cheese and cream that the human body finds easy to metabolize, because they are rich in shorter saturated fatty acids ranging from the 4-carbon butyric acid to the 16-carbon palmitic acid. But the American diet includes greater amounts saturated fats made via hydrogenating vegetable oils which include longer 18- and 20-carbon fatty acids. In addition, these hydrogenated fats include small quantities of trans fats which may have associated health risks.[26][27][28]