Saturday, July 20, 2013

Effects of alcohol on an unborn child are irreparable

FILE 

By LINA NJOROGE

There are many women who do not know the risks associated with alcohol intake during pregnancy.

Some women will argue that a glass of wine will, help in digestion or is beneficial to the heart. Unfortunately they do not realise that alcohol is harmful not only to them but to the unborn child. So it does not matter how little the alcohol is, the important thing is that once a mother is pregnant, they should not be indulging in alcohol.

Doctors recommend that when expecting, a mother should avoid any alcohol intake. And for those who insist on taking just a little, you should not gamble over the child’s health because the damage is irreparable. Taking alcohol during pregnancy is taking unnecessary risk over the unborn child.

Heavy drinking during pregnancy is known to cause miscarriages or even birth defects. Even though potential effects of small amounts of alcohol on a developing baby are not well understood, it is not prudent to take alcohol especially since one may not know what the outcome would be.

There is actually no amount that has been proven to be safe during pregnancy and there is still no evidence showing potential effects of drinking alcohol at particular times during the pregnancy.

Our bodies breakdown alcohol in very different ways. Some women have higher levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

Drinking when pregnant causes alcohol to pass through the placenta to the child. So the more alcohol one takes the more harm because the alcohol will be circulating in the body for a longer period of time.

Women who drink during pregnancy are at risk of giving birth to a child with foetal alcohol syndrome. These conditions range learning impairment, delays in speech and language, decreased birth weight, altered physical features, growth retardation, hyperactivity, delayed development of motor skills such as sitting up, crawling or walking.

Seizures can also be experienced in children whose mothers used to drink alcohol. There are also other developmental problems linked to maternal drinking which may emerge later in childhood.

One of the other critical impacts of alcohol intake during pregnancy is that it may affect or interfere with the normal growth and development of the brain cells as the baby’s brain is constantly developing during pregnancy.

Ultimately the decision whether to drink or not drink alcohol in pregnant mothers is very much individual and personal. Each mom-to-be needs to weigh whether giving up alcohol and missing some form of socialisation is a worthy sacrifice for their baby.

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