Alcohol Effects on Fetus: Brain, Heart, Kidney & more

Alcohol Effects on Fetus

The fetus is totally dependent on the mother. Its health and nutrition are directly related to the the mother’s diet and lifestyle. So it is not strange that any imbalance in it has a negative impact on your precious baby. In this article we want to talk about a problem that is related to the diet and lifestyle and specifically about alcohol effect on fetus.

Fetal Development and Alcohol Consumption

The percentage of pregnant women taking alcohol is increasing, which is an irresponsible behavior that badly affects the baby’s health. Drinking alcohol, especially if it is in excess, during pregnancy is not so much a problem for the mother, but it will basically affect the fetus and its development.

Explained below are the alcohol effects on the fetus, why it happens and the consequences of this habit.

How alcohol affects the fetus

Alcohol directly affects the fetus because the liquid enter the baby’s body through the mother’s bloodstream. The problem is that the woman, an adult with a certain tolerance to alcohol, can eliminate this toxic substance twice as fast as the child, whose organs are still forming and are not prepared to perform these tasks.

The presence of alcohol in the baby’s body during developmental phase can cause abnormalities, deficits and malformations, which we call fetal alcohol syndrome. In fact, it is estimated that up to 20% of malformations are due to this reason, making alcohol the main preventable cause of abnormalities.

Below we will explain how alcohol affects the fetus, listing the main characteristics of children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome.

Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome mostly suffer from facial malformations that give them characteristic features. These facial features are:

  • Wide and flat face
  • Small head circumference
  • Wide nasal bridge, which in turn is very low
  • Epicanthal folds in the eyes, which are usually small
  • Short and pointed nose
  • Narrow palpebral fissures in the eyelids
  • Minor ear malformations

Developmental deficits

Developmental deficits in fetuses affected by fetal alcohol syndrome can be seen both prenatally and postnatally. At birth, they are often much lower in weight than they should be, a developmental failure that remains slow over the years and prevents them from fully completing their development.

Of particular concern is the lack of brain development, due to the small cranial circumference, a factor that plays a decisive role in the child’s functional abilities, which in many cases lead to mental deficiencies.

Damage to the baby’s central nervous system

Alcohol in the fetus severely affects the central nervous system, which can be significantly impaired.

Almost all of these children suffer developmental delays, which can range from minor abnormalities to severe mental retardation. In addition, there are behavioral problems and other disorders ranging from nervousness and irritability to tremor, hyperactivity and acute and permanent disturbances in motor functions.

Possible deformities

A mother who drinks alcohol during pregnancy is greatly increasing the chances that her future child will suffer major structural abnormalities. In many cases there are life-threatening congenital malformations of the heart, but also common are anomalies of the eye, skeleton, kidneys, genitals or limb deformities.

How much alcohol should a pregnant women drink?

While many people believe that above mentioned health impact are due to the excess alcoholism. But the reality is that, there are women who have a glass of wine to relax or on occasions of special importance without anything happening to the baby. But it is no less true that the organisms and the filtration of alcohol in our body varies according to the person.

Family history and genetics are also relevant, since the risk of the fetus suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome increases in those women whose family history includes cases of alcoholism or if they themselves have had episodes of excessive alcohol intake.

So, how much alcohol expectant mother can drink? Although there are many research studies done in this area but it has not been possible to quantify; since every women’s body is different and may react differently to what they consume.

Taking this into account, the most reasonable and advisable position is not to drink alcohol under any circumstances.

Effect of Men Consuming Alcohol on Fetus

But not only mothers should be the ones who have to limit their consumption and deprive themselves of a good glass of wine. Men’s health is also responsible for the proper development of the fetus. According to various studies, if the father has consumed alcohol prior to the conception of the baby, the risks of the baby suffering from leukemia increase substantially.

The explanation for this is – drug produces mutations in the chromosomes that cause an alteration in a protein associated with the appearance of leukemia. The same happens with tobacco. This is why it is recommended that couples who want to conceive a child should abstain from alcohol and tobacco for a year before fertilization.

An avoidable risk

If you were wondering how alcohol affects the fetus, you already have an answer, and the fact is that this drug causes havoc wherever it goes, including serious malformations and anomalies in the development of the future baby that could easily be avoided with abstinence.

Displayed below are the diet books for pregnancy available on Amazon:


Nilam Mehta - Author

Nilam is the owner and writer of EverydayCares.com. She is an experienced pharmaceutical professional and believes that many of the health problems can be cured naturally at home. She enjoys reading scholarly medical journals and gets inspiration to write up-to-date practical information and resources and makes sure all of the articles are of the highest quality. The best way to reach her is via¬†[email protected]

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