It’s hard to be pregnant during the holiday season .

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We’re preparing, baking cookies, going to holiday parties, shopping in a frenzy for that perfect  gift. About to just celebrate the season with friendship, great food and drinks.  This can be the most wonderful time of the year. But when pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it can be challenging to face the decision about whether to celebrate the season with or without alcohol.

Can I have just a little something?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology, and the American Academy of Pediatricians, “there is no safe amount of alcohol, no safe type of alcohol and no safe time to drink when a woman is pregnant.” And yet, in 2016, the CDC estimated that 3.3 million women in the United States were at risk for having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

When a woman drinks so does the developing baby, who lacks the ability to process or metabolize alcohol through their liver or other organs. The baby has the same blood alcohol concentration as the mother. It makes no difference if the alcoholic drink consumed is a beer, glass of wine or a distilled spirit or liquor such as vodka.

What are the risks of alcohol and pregnancy?

Evidence-based research has found that drinking even small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity or sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, more than 40 years of published research has shown alcohol to be a neurotoxin in utero. This means that alcohol is a toxic substance to the developing baby just like carbon monoxide and lead.

Alcohol can cause the death of developing brain cells, even during the early stages of pregnancy. Most babies negatively affected by alcohol exposure have no apparent physical birth defects. But they can have lifelong behavioral and learning problems that often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as autism or attention deficit disorder instead of one of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Current studies estimate that 1 in 20 school-age children may have FASDs.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer.  There is also no safe amount of drugs including marijuana that we know of.  Not consuming alcohol at any time during pregnancy is the current recommendation, you can always order mocktails, nonalcoholic beverages or sparkling water with fresh fruit. They can be very refreshing and festive as well as enjoyable and help you get your holiday spirits on during this holiday season and throughout your pregnancy.

Jacqueline Ann Chapman 

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