Before you decide to drink that alcoholic beverage, think about what may possibly happen to your unborn child. Many babies suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome every year. In the United States, approximately 40,000 babies are born with some type of alcohol related deformities each year. It affects an estimated one to two in every 1,000 births in the country. Fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS occurs, when the fetus is exposed to high levels of alcohol. Alcohol passes the placenta in the same concentration present in the maternal bloodstream. When this occurs, the fetus cannot remove the breakdown products of alcohol from their body. This greatly affects the baby’s tissues and organs. It is particularly damaging to the brain and spinal cord cells.

Fetal alcohol syndrome does not only cause a single birth defect but a range of alcohol effects on the baby. It may range from mild to severe, and it is collectively called as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASD. Infants with the disorder may have a characteristic facial deformity. This includes small eyes, a thin upper lip and an upturned nose. Heart defects, hearing and vision difficulties, and growth problems may also occur. Babies exposed to high levels of alcohol, may also have birth defects that involve parts of the body such as the bones and the urinary tract. It can also affect cognitive development that may result to mental retardation, delayed development and various abnormal behaviors like hyperactivity, short attention span, anxiety problems and poor impulse control.

There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy because an individual has different variations in metabolism. Thus, women are best advised to abstain from alcohol if they think they are pregnant or if they are attempting to become pregnant. Alcohol puts a baby in very grave danger, and women must not take alcohol consumption lightly during pregnancy.  Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the known preventable causes of mental retardation, and sadly it still continues to be one of the common causes.

If you think that you were able to drink alcohol before you learned that you were pregnant or if you can not stay away from alcohol during pregnancy, consult your health care provider. It is important that you can be evaluated for your risk of alcoholism. Early diagnosis decreases the risk of long-term problems for children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

The best cure to prevent these defects is only through prevention. If you happen to have an alcohol problem, get help first before you plan to get pregnant. It may also be wise to avoid alcohol throughout your childbearing years, or if you are sexually active and if you engage in unprotected sex. Many pregnancies are unplanned and it is very dangerous to expose your unborn child to any level of alcohol while inside the womb.

Caring for a child with alcohol effects is very challenging. Check whether you can find community services in your area, which may be able to help you with the special needs of your child. In order to protect your child, abstain from drinking any alcoholic beverage during pregnancy. This time you call the shots, you can choose to drink and let your child suffer the consequences, or you can either choose to avoid alcohol in order to give your child a good start at life.