Alcohol and pregnancy
There is no known safe level of alcohol use in pregnancy, so stopping completely is best. If you are planning a pregnancy you need to know that:
- For men and women heavy drinking can cause impotence and fertility problems
- A baby’s vital organs – their heart, brain and skeleton – are formed in the first 10-50 days of pregnancy.
Cutting down or stopping alcohol while trying to get pregnant protects your baby.
Continuing to drink, even in small amounts, when you are pregnant puts your baby at risk. The more you drink the greater the amount that is passed on to your baby.
- More than 3 drinks a day increases the risk of miscarriage
- More than 12 drinks a week increases the risk of premature birth
- Binge drinking is particluarly risky
Foetal alcohol syndrome
Drinking alcohol in the first trimester can cause foetal alcohol syndrome, resulting in serious problems for the development of your baby, and all their organs. Your baby's brain develops throughout the whole pregnancy, drinking in the second and third trimesters can cause Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, particularly as the biggest spurt of brain growth happens in the final trimester, and then continues on until the child is two years of age.
The effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy may not be seen until your child is a few years old. Children exposed alcohol during pregnancy often show poor attention and hyperactivity.
The country’s three largest maternity hospitals have joined with Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, to warn of the damage that can be caused to the unborn child by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The dangers of drinking during pregnancy and advice for prospective mothers is outlined in a new information leaflet.