Alcohol during first Trimester

Excessive alcohol consumption is not advisable at any time, but this statement holds especially true during pregnancy.  Alcohol abuse during any stage of pregnancy can cause defects classified under Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can lead to a child being born with mental retardation, poor coordination, short attention span and physical deformations such as defective organs or deformed limbs. One key indicator of FAS is radical facial characteristics, which may include a small circumference of the head, a flattened midface, and a sunken nasal bridge.  Despite these already horrible conditions, the effects of alcohol consumption can cause a more severe impact an unborn child during the first trimester.

During the first trimester, the fetus’s organs are just beginning to develop and it is important to note that whatever the mother consumes, the child also consumes.  As the child’s organs are that much smaller than that of the mother’s, it takes a longer time for their livers to process the alcohol that is taken in and it affects the rest of their organs to a higher degree than it affects an adult.  Studies indicate that drinking alcohol during the first trimester may increase the risk for miscarriage and premature birth, as well as contributing to stillbirth.  These are dire consequences for a moment of fun.

Even if a child is born without the extreme effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, there may still be side effects classified as alcohol related birth defects (ARBDs) or alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorders (ARNDs).  Though these children may not have the overt physical characteristics of a child born with FAS, they may still exhibit physical birth defects with their organs, such as problems with their heart or lungs (ARBD), or learning and behavioral problems (ARNDs), which may have a noticeable impact on a child’s performance in social environments.

Though there are arguments stating that there is no basis for little alcohol consumption having a severe impact on fetal development, there have also been studies to support that women drinking as little as one drink per week during pregnancy can indeed have an adverse effect on development. These effects can be overlooked in studies revolving around drinking during pregnancy as most of these studies do not offer long -term analysis after birth to rule out potential ARNDs.  However, it is generally accepted that one day of binge drinking throughout the first trimester is worse than casual drinking, and that casual drinking is worse than abstaining from alcohol altogether.

Most women develop a natural aversion to alcohol with the arrival of pregnancy for various reasons, including the already prominent nausea and the need to protect their unborn child. During a social event, one can find it difficult to avoid fitting in with the crowd or longing for the anxiety reducing effects of a drink.  A woman should try to seek out virgin varieties of their favorite drinks, and if not, find other methods for relieving their anxiety.  Again, the first trimester marks the growth of all of the fetus’s major organs and aside from alcohol other things such as hair dyes, psychotropic drugs, and excessive caffeine can have an adverse effect on development.  There is no law stating that a pregnant woman cannot drink or engage in any of the other things mentioned but for the sake of the fetal development, and to provide the child the greatest chances of survival and health, it is highly discouraged.