Alcohol during pregnancy


Many women wonder whether a glass of wine is okay during pregnancy. Alcohol can cross the placenta (“placenta”, the border between maternal and child’s blood circulation) unhindered. In this way, the amount of alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman reaches the embryo or fetus unfiltered via the umbilical cord.

Therefore, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is always a risk for the growing child and is a frequent cause of congenital malformations and disabilities. In Germany, a total of about 10,000 children are born every year with damage caused by alcohol. Of these, about 2,000 to 4,000 children are diagnosed with the so-called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), also known as alcohol embryopathy.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe form of damage caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It describes a simultaneous occurrence of behavioural abnormalities and physical and mental developmental disorders, which in most cases are irreparable, i.e. permanent. A safe amount of alcohol for pregnancy is not known. In order not to run the risk of alcohol-related developmental disorders in the growing child, alcohol should therefore be completely avoided during pregnancy. or Prohibited foods during pregnancy

Possible consequences

The long-term consequences and damage caused by alcohol during pregnancy are many and varied. The time of alcohol consumption also plays an important role, as the embryo or foetus is at different stages of maturity and development and therefore reacts differently to external factors: In the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester) the organs are created. Their development is very sensitive to external influences and consequently the damage caused by alcohol consumption by the pregnant woman in this phase is profound.

During the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy (second trimester), alcohol consumption is associated above all with a risk of miscarriage (miscarriage), and growth may also be delayed. In the sixth to ninth month of pregnancy (third trimester), the risk of damage to the central nervous system is greatest and results in neurological, psychological and social impairments. An umbrella term for all disorders caused by alcohol consumption is the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.

It summarises the various developmental deficits that can arise when women consume alcohol during pregnancy. Physical damage includes growth disorders (short stature), cranial, facial and brain maldevelopment, malformations of the genitals and skeleton, heart defects, hearing disorders and muscle weakness. Neurological, psychological and social consequences include intelligence reduction, difficulties in concentrating and learning, speech disorders, aggressiveness, hyperactivity and epilepsy.

The most severe form of alcohol-related harm is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), also known as alcohol embryopathy. It describes a simultaneous occurrence of several of the above-mentioned behavioural abnormalities and physical and mental development disorders. Typical facial changes may also occur when the foetal alcohol syndrome is complete. Fetal alcohol syndrome is irreversible, which means that the damage is irreversible and in most cases cannot be treated. Targeted early intervention and intensive care of the affected children is very important for their further development.