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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Alcohol can affect a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she is pregnant. There is no known safe amount and no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

The Ministry of Health advises that if there is any chance that you could be pregnant, you should not drink. Babies exposed to alcohol before birth may develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which can cause problems including:

  • low birth weight
  • distinctive facial features
  • heart defects
  • behavioural problems
  • intellectual disability

When drinking alcohol during pregnancy MOH states your unborn baby is exposed to similar levels of alcohol that you are. The alcohol crosses from your blood through the placenta and into the baby’s bloodstream.

This can:

  • stop your unborn baby’s nervous system (including the brain) from developing properly
  • prevent your baby from getting all the nourishment they need
  • cause changes in the development of your baby’s face, resulting in the typical FASD facial features
  • In severe cases, babies affected by FASD may die before they are born

There is no cure for FASD, it is a lifelong disability. The best thing to do is prevent it by not drinking, as there is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

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