Did you know that when you consume alcohol while pregnant some of it goes to your unborn baby? Well, experts say that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy to ensure the safety of the foetus
According to Dr Iba Mayele, a gynecologist at Clinic Galien, Kimironko, drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause spontaneous miscarriage.
He also says alcohol consumption can lead to stillbirth.
“Alcohol consumption is only safe in the later stages of pregnancy since facial characteristics of the infant are almost fully developed,” Mayele states.
He, however, explains that not all infants exposed to alcohol in the uterus will have defects.
Since in the first four weeks of pregnancy the baby’s heart, central nervous system, eyes, arms, legs, and the brain are developing, Dr Raymond Awazi, a pediatrician at Hôpital La Croix du Sud in Kigali, says alcohol can lead to growth retardation (the fetus not developing at the right rate).
Awazi says alcohol can lead to premature delivery (this is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby is due or before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy).
For Dr David Garry, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Stony Brook Medicine University School of Medicine in the US, it is hard to predict the impact of drinking on any given pregnancy as some women have higher levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
“If a pregnant woman with low levels of this enzyme drinks, her baby may be more susceptible to harm because the alcohol may circulate in her body for a longer period of time,” Garry says.
Awazi further says alcohol results in a poor shape of the skull, hence an unbalanced head and face of the baby.
Mayele explains that the risk of alcohol to the foetus is majorly during the second half of the woman’s trimester of pregnancy.
Experts say women with health issues should be particularly cautious about alcohol while pregnant; they should not drink alcohol if they have liver disease, a history of addiction, or are on any medications that may conflict with alcohol, such as antidepressants.
For Mayele, foetal alcohol spectrum disorders for every drink per day increase during the second half of the first trimester and are commonly known to cause birth defects which include skeletal defect and epilepsy.
Faetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These problems may include an abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor coordination, low intelligence, behavior problems, and problems with hearing or seeing.
Awazi adds that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result into developing amnesia for the child. Amnesia is the loss of memory, and it can be due to brain damage.