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Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

  |  Updated: January 07, 2016 16:25 IST

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Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
The effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy have always been questionable but is just a little bit ok? If this new study is to be believed, it's definitely not.  According to a new research, published in the world renowned journal 'The Lancet', drinking any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can put your baby at increased risk of about 428 distinct diseases!

These diseases are associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD is a broad term describing the range of disabilities that can occur in individuals as a result of alcohol exposure before birth.

In this study, researchers have identified 428 distinct disease conditions that co-occur in people with FASD. "We have systematically identified numerous disease conditions co-occurring with FASD, which underscores the fact that it is not safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, despite the conflicting messages the public may hear," said study lead author Lana Popova from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada. "Alcohol can affect any organ or system in the developing fetus," Popova noted.

The severity and symptoms of FASD vary, based on how much and when alcohol was consumed, as well as other factors that affect the mother's life during pregnancy such as stress levels, nutrition and environmental influences. The effects are also influenced by genetic factors and the body's ability to break down alcohol, in both the mother and the fetus.

These 428 co-occurring conditions were identified after reviewing 127 studies.They can affect nearly every system of the body, including the central nervous system (brain), vision, hearing, cardiac, circulation, digestion, and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems, among others. "It is important that the public receive a consistent and clear message - if you want to have a healthy child, stay away from alcohol when you're planning a pregnancy and throughout your whole pregnancy," Popova said.

You might be tempted to reach out for an occasional tipple, but the advice on drinking alcohol during pregnancy has always been confusing. Dr. Mamta Mittal, Senior Consultant at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, explains,"Alcohol is known to damage the liver when taken in large quantities. But during pregnancy the risk of liver damage increases even more. This is due to a common liver disease that can affect a woman during pregnancy called cholestasis. Cholestasis is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gall bladder is affected by high amounts of pregnancy hormones. This can lead to severe itching besides other effects. As the liver is already a bit stressed during pregnancy, consumption of alcohol may put more pressure."

Pediatrician,  Dr. Hitesh Alwadhi from Kalra Hospital in New Delhi agrees with the above study and say, "When an expectant mother drinks alcohol it has a direct effect on the baby. It passes through the umbilical cord and can cause conditions which are associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). These disorders usually last for a lifetime and in many cases are difficult to cure. It increases the risk of developing problems like congenital heart disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, facial abnormalities and short stature."


 With inputs from IANS
 

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