Effects of Alcohol on Unborn Babies

If you are pregnant and struggling with alcohol, kindly call 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor will be on the phone to assist you.

Can alcohol affect unborn babies? Do you regularly consume alcohol? Are you pregnant now and wondering if the habit will affect your unborn baby? If so, how serious would it be? Has your doctor asked you to stay away from Alcohol now that you are pregnant?

Alcohol taken in large quantities is potent enough to affect the functioning of the internal organs of a full-grown adult, but how does this translate to an unborn baby? Also, because at least 41% of pregnant women in the UK drink during their pregnancies, can it genuinely affect an unborn baby?

If you have asked any of these questions or have questions similar to them, this article is for you.

Can Alcohol Affect My Unborn Baby?

The elephant in the room is obviously if alcohol is truly capable of hurting unborn babies, and the answer is quite simple, yes, alcohol can affect your unborn child.

Being asked to stay away from alcohol just because you are pregnant is not just for the sake of the mother’s health alone, but for that of the child.

There are no known safe quantities as we cannot fully understand how much alcohol is detrimental to the child’s health. This is difficult since each individual is different.

The safest policy is to avoid drinking altogether.

The mother feeds the baby through the placenta during pregnancy, which means that the child “eats whatever its mother eats”. This includes alcohol which the fetus is not capable of handling at such an early stage of development.

Alcohol is also considered a teratogen which means that it is capable of causing congenital disabilities or abnormalities during pregnancy. This feature of alcohol forms a part of the reasons why it is not recommended for women expecting to get pregnant.

Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is, therefore, a must for every expectant mother.

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How does alcohol affect the Unborn Baby?

As established, alcohol harms the unborn baby, but how exactly does it affect the child. The ways alcohol can affect the unborn baby include:

Every phase of pregnancy is crucial. However,  the first trimester is very critical as many vital organs are formed during the period.

Drinking Alcohol in the first three months could lead to various problems, including the development of abnormal facial features and growth problems and problems with the development of the central nervous system. The danger with developing issues with the central nervous system remains throughout the pregnancy as the development of the nervous system.

Especially the brain continues throughout pregnancy; exposure to alcohol at any point during the pregnancy can lead to severe problems for the unborn baby.

If you are pregnant and struggling with alcohol, kindly call 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor will be on the phone to assist you.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the worst conditions that can hit an unborn child. This is because it is a condition that can not be cured or reversed but simply managed. This condition is entirely avoidable if the unborn baby’s parents will take the necessary precautions with alcohol. Failure to do so only leads to this condition.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that occurs in a child due to alcohol exposure during pregnancy. It refers to a wide range of illnesses that affect babies due to the intake of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy. Although alcohol has the propensity to affect pregnancy and prematurely end the baby’s life, the baby would be born with defects that will last all their life with this condition.

This condition is a significant problem in the UK because the UK ranks as the country with the fourth-highest prevalence of drinking whilst pregnant in the world. In addition, at least 17% of the babies born in the UK have been diagnosed with this condition.

Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

There are a variety of symptoms that can be associated with Fetal Alcohol syndrome. Some of these symptoms can be seen immediately after the baby is born, whereas some are less obvious and can only be observed after the baby has developed to a certain age. The symptoms include:

Abnormal facial features: This remains perhaps one of the most apparent symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The head, eyes, and upper lip of a baby suffering from this condition will be smaller, with gaps between their eyes. There is also a significant bridge between the upper lip and nose.

Immature Organs and Brittle Bones: The organs of babies with this condition do not develop well, which leaves them with weak and immature organs. This leaves the baby susceptible to organ failure (kidney failure and heart failure). A similar condition is observed with bone development, which leaves the baby with brittle bones.

Low IQ: The brain, just like the other organs mentioned, does not grow as it should, which leaves the child with a low IQ. The baby, once born, may experience difficulties learning.

Hyperactivity & Mood Swings: Children with FASD experience bad mood swings coupled with hyperactivity where their brains cannot concentrate on one thing. This makes schooling difficult for them.

How Do I Avoid Alcohol During My Pregnancy?

Taking alcohol is not an option whilst pregnant. Some have had significant quantities of alcohol and yet had seemingly normal births, whilst some have had as little as a glass of wine, resulting in unpleasant conditions for their children. Taking alcohol during pregnancy is too much of a gamble, especially when the safety of one’s child is at stake.

Below are some ways an expectant mother can avoid taking alcohol during pregnancy.

Avoid circumstances, friends, or events that will make you drink alcohol. This will go a long way to get rid of the temptation to drink and prevent accidental drinking of alcohol.

Get rid of the alcohol in your home, workplace, or anywhere else that is your personal space where you store or keep alcohol.

Inform your partner, family, and friends that you are expectant and ask them to help you stay away from alcohol. Having individuals keeping their eyes on you would go a long way to prevent you from indulging or them suggesting it to you.

Note: You can also talk to your doctor or physician if you perceive staying away from alcohol will be a challenge for you, especially if you are alcohol dependent and have abused alcohol in the past. Please feel free to call us at 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor will be on the phone to assist you.

What About Men?

What has been described so far makes it seem like the woman alone has to be careful with alcohol when expecting to get pregnant or pregnant. However, men ought to be cautious as abusing alcohol could affect the unborn child.

Drinking regularly causes the semen volume and sperm quality of the man to decrease. Some studies have also found out that as many as 3 out of 4 children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have alcoholic fathers. Some research even shows that the fathers’ alcohol use can affect the child’s genes even if the mother does not drink alcohol.

This means that fathers are not exempted when it comes to unborn babies being affected by alcohol.


Alcohol can have severe effects on the unborn child, most of which can not be treated or reversible. Therefore, the expectant mother should do her best to avoid alcohol if she is trying to get pregnant, recently found out she is pregnant or have been pregnant for a few months.

 Doing so will help prevent complications that will affect the quality of life of the unborn child or even lead to the death of the child. A few minutes of pleasure from alcohol is not worth seeing your child potentially suffering all their life or dying before having the chance to live. So think about it and make the difficult but right choice

Be sure to watch out for the signs of alcohol poisoning on yourself or others as it is a medical emergency and you should call the emergency services. The emergency services operator or the hospital will ask you how much alcohol you or the person you’re with has consumed, as well as the type of alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have already drunk alcohol, talk to your physician or doctor as soon as possible. If you are unsure of what to do, kindly call us on 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor will be on the phone to assist you.
No! You absolutely can not. Alcohol can cause serious complications irrespective of the quantity taken during pregnancy. Therefore, you are better off not taking it.
The best thing to do if you find yourself in such a situation is to inform your doctor or physician to know the best course of action for you. You can call us on 0203 955 7700 if you are not sure what steps to take.
The best thing to do if you find yourself in such a situation is to inform your doctor or physician to know the best course of action for you. You can call us on 0203 955 7700 if you are not sure what steps to take.
Your husband’s drinking may have had an impact before you getting pregnant. However, if you are already pregnant, it may not have a direct effect. It is, however, best if your husband or partner is not drinking during your pregnancy. This will help you avoid alcohol, too, especially if the presence of alcohol will tempt you to drink. If you are living with an alcoholic, you might want to read our article on it

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Alcohol is capable of hurting unborn babies and should not be taken lightly. Statistics show that the UK ranks fourth worldwide in the list of countries with pregnant women taking alcohol. Also, 17% of children in the UK have at one point in time been diagnosed with having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is worrying because the condition cannot be reversed and will only be managed throughout the lifespan of the child.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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