Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause physical and mental birth defects. Each year, up to 40,000 babies are born with some degree of alcohol-related damage . Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, many do not realize that moderate—or even light—drinking also may harm the fetus.
In fact, no level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe. Therefore, the March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women do not drink any alcohol—including beer, wine, wine coolers and hard liquor—throughout their pregnancy and while nursing. In addition, because women often do not know they are pregnant for a few months, women who may be pregnant or those who are attempting to become pregnant should abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol is a toxin. When you drink, it rapidly reaches your baby through your bloodstream and across the placenta. Too much alcohol can cause permanent damage to the cells of a developing baby. It can also cause problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage and premature birth.
Too much alcohol during pregnancy can change the way a baby's face, organs and brain develops. It can also affect the nervous system, which is why learning difficulties and life-long problems with movement and coordination often result.