Even One Or Two Drinks Of Alcohol Increases The Risk Of Miscarriage

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states miscarriages occur in roughly 15% to 20% of pregnancies. However, the risk of miscarriage that any individual woman experiences is dependent on her health and lifestyle choices. A recent study by Vanderbilt researchers investigated the impact even the slightest amount of alcohol has on a pregnant woman. It found even a small amount of alcohol for pregnant women can pose a risk for unborn babies and the mother’s emotional health.

The focus group of the study was mothers who drank less than five drinks per week. Unfortunately, the evidence noted a 19% increase of miscarriage in expecting mothers who drank small amounts of alcohol.  An interesting finding was the increased risk for expecting mothers who engaged in weekly drinking. Similarly, another study by the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that expecting mothers who were exposed to alcohol less than 5 times per week had increased their miscarriage risk by 6% per each additional drink.

A third study who surveyed 93,000 pregnant women between 1996 and 2003 noted that “women who had 2 drinks a week had 1.5 times the risk of miscarriage” compared to mothers who did not. Heavy drinking increased this percentage more dramatically. The results revealed a 66% increased risk in pregnant women who had 2 to 3 drinks weekly. Mothers who exceeded drinking 4 or more drinks a week “more than doubled their risk of miscarriage.”

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Drinking Can Alter Baby’s DNA And Produce Developmental Problems

Doctors often advise expecting mothers to make lifestyle changes as they are beginning to care for 2 lives. Drinking moderately may not have severe effects on the individual. However, take into account a developing human the mother is carrying, and the effects change. Unborn babies receive the alcohol the mother drinks through her bloodstream. As a result of alcohol exposure for developing bodies, babies can suffer immensely.

A major concern expecting mothers have aside a miscarriage is birthing a baby who has birth defects. In some cases, moderate to heavy drinking could alter the baby’s DNA A Rutgers study revealed findings that noted the connection between binge-drinking and heavy-drinking mothers and genetic alterations. There were 2 genes in particular, POMC and PER2 that were modified in the babies of drinking mothers, resulting in altered mannerisms and appearances in babies.

Another one of the most common effects of alcohol on a mother’s unborn baby is a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The characteristics of this condition produce noticeable defects in the baby’s facial features and body as well as problems in brain development. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, small eyes, deformities of limbs and joints, a smaller than average head, poor memory, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and poor coordination.

Social and communication problems also often occur which can lead to poor academic performance, poor social skills, and disturbances in mental focus. In some cases, alcohol consumption can cause brain damage as alcohol enters the baby’s major organs and tissue. Mothers who drink without knowing they are pregnant can put the baby at extreme risk of secondary developmental problems, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, alcohol misuse, depression, and anxiety.

Overindulging Can Mean Fetal Brain Damage

The Vanderbilt study continued to review the effects of drinking, expecting mothers and the outcome of miscarriage risks. One idea was the increase of oxidative stress—which is an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidants—in the fetus. As a result of the rising oxidative stress in the unborn baby, the end result is damage of the cells. 24 studies examined expectant mothers’ use of alcohol, representing 231,000 women. The results found that “more than half of mothers used alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy prior to having a positive pregnancy test.” The data included both planned and unplanned pregnancies.

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Krystina Murray

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  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

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