Binge drinking generally relates to consuming large amounts of alcohol over a relatively short period of time. While binge drinking is considered to be unhealthy for adults, it can be very harmful to a developing fetus when the pregnant mother participates in this type of behavior even a single time. The unfortunate truth is that some pregnant women will binge drink before they learn that they are pregnant, and some will make the decision to continue to drink after they know that they are pregnant. Alcohol consumption is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation in the United States, and because of this, it is important that all individuals understand how binge drinking impacts a fetus.
The Affects of Alcohol on the Brain
There are periods of time during pregnancy when fetal brain development is at its peak, and binge drinking during these times can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder and several other conditions. The effects of these conditions stem from mild deformities to severe mental retardation or worse. It is important to note, however, that there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume at any time during pregnancy, and any alcohol may impact the fetal brain and general fetal development in a number of ways. This is because alcohol is a known sedative, and its impact on the brain are considerable.
The Variation of Symptoms in the Baby
Some children who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome or other related conditions have relatively mild symptoms, while others have more significant symptoms that can impact the child throughout the rest of his or her life. There are numerous factors that can contribute to the variations in symptoms, and one of the most significant factors relates to the drinking pattern of the mother. Generally, the effects are lighter when a mother drinks lightly throughout pregnant than if she drinks heavily even a single time. In addition, maternal metabolism, the stage in which the alcohol was consumed, genetics and the vulnerability of different areas of the brain all will play a role in the impact to the child.
What You Can Do
The fact is, reported cases of binge drinking in pregnancy exceed the number of fetal alcohol cases. This means that not every incidence of binge drinking in pregnancy will result in unhealthy results in the developing baby. However, this is an entirely preventable and controllable behavior, and it is known to have devastating consequences for the child that can affect him or her throughout childhood and adulthood. It can result in speech and developmental issues, learning disabilities, facial deformation, nerve conditions and more. This is a condition that generally can be diagnosed at the time of birth, and treatment can begin at that time. However, there is not a cure for infants with fetal alcohol syndrome or other conditions. The fact is that the best thing a pregnant woman can do is to avoid consuming any alcohol during pregnancy. In addition, even if you are not pregnant but you are not taking steps to prevent pregnancy or you are trying to become pregnant, you should avoid consuming alcohol altogether.
Drinking alcohol in large quantities while pregnant can be detrimental to the health of a developing baby, but even drinking a small amount during critical periods of development can also impact the baby. Drinking alcohol can be controlled, and all women who are of child-bearing age should be aware of the impact of alcohol on a developing baby. They should also avoid binge drinking or even drinking in moderation until after their baby has been born to protect the health of the child.