Effects of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant: What Every Expecting Mother Should Know?



Published on: 15-May-2024


10 min read




Anushka Tripathi


Effects of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant: What Every Expecting Mother Should Know?

Effects of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant: What Every Expecting Mother Should Know?

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Pregnancy is a new chapter in the lives of many. As you embark on this incredible experience, it's crucial to understand the factors that can impact your developing baby's health. One significant concern is drinking alcohol while pregnant. 

Alcohol during pregnancy, even in small amounts, can have serious consequences for your baby. The developing fetus is highly susceptible to the effects of alcohol during pregnancy, as it readily passes from your bloodstream to the baby through the umbilical cord. This direct exposure can lead to a range of developmental problems collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). 

The effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant while pregnant can cause birth defects such as facial anomalies and developmental problems, as well as damage to important organs such as the brain. This can lead to cognitive obstacles, including learning deficits, memory problems, and behavioural concerns like hyperactivity and emotional difficulties.  

This blog delves into the scientific evidence surrounding the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. We'll explore the potential risks associated with alcohol consumption at various stages of pregnancy and the spectrum of FASDs and offer valuable information to empower you to make informed choices for a healthy pregnancy. 

Table of Contents  

1. Drinking While Pregnant: Is It Hazardous To Baby’s Health?   

2. Effects Of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant   

3. Healthy Drinks To Replace Alcohol During Pregnancy 

4. Dietitian’s Recommendation 

5. The Final Say 

6. FAQs 

7. References 

Drinking While Pregnant: Why Is It Hazardous To Baby’s Health? 

Drinking While Pregnant: Why Is It Hazardous To Baby’s Health

Here are some points to know the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant:  

1. Alcohol And Fetal Exposure 

One of the major effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant is when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, it readily passes through the placenta and enters the bloodstream of the developing fetus. Due to the fetus's underdeveloped metabolic system, alcohol remains in its system for longer periods, leading to heightened exposure during crucial stages of development.  

2. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDS) 

Another in the list of major effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant is that prenatal alcohol exposure can result in a spectrum of effects collectively known as FASDs. At the same time, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one recognisable outcome; not all affected babies exhibit its distinctive facial features. Instead, they may present with a range of physical, cognitive, and behavioural impairments falling under the broader spectrum of FASDs.   

3. Physical Manifestations 

Alongside characteristic facial abnormalities, prenatal alcohol exposure can cause growth deficiencies and organ damage, particularly affecting the brain and central nervous system. These physical manifestations may include low birth weight, developmental delays, and malformations in vital organs. This is among the major effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant.  

4. Cognitive And Behavioral Impairments 

Children affected by prenatal alcohol exposure may experience a range of cognitive challenges, including learning disabilities, memory deficits, and difficulties with attention and executive functioning. Additionally, behavioural issues such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor social skills can persist throughout their lives.  

5. Influencing Factors 

The severity and manifestation of FASDs vary widely depending on factors like the timing, frequency, and amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy, as well as genetic predispositions and environmental influences. This is another major point among the various effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. 

Effects Of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant  

Here is a list of effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant that you must know:  

  • Slower growth: Babies may be born smaller than expected.  

  • Facial abnormalities: These can include distinctive facial features like a smooth groove between the nose and upper lip, a thin upper lip, and small eye openings, which are signs of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  

  • Organ damage: Alcohol exposure can harm the development of organs, particularly the brain and nervous system.  

  • Cognitive and Developmental Consequences: Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in long-term cognitive and developmental challenges, such as:  

  • Learning difficulties: Children may struggle with schoolwork and need extra support.  

  • Memory issues: Alcohol exposure can affect a child's ability to remember things.  

  • Behavioural Changes: Children exposed to alcohol before birth may show behavioural problems, including restlessness, impulsiveness, social difficulties, emotional regulation issues.  

The effects of alcohol during pregnancy can vary based on factors like timing and quantity of alcohol consumed. Greater alcohol consumption and exposure during critical stages of development can increase the risk.  

Healthy Drinks To Replace Alcohol During Pregnancy   

After getting into the various effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant during pregnancy, it's important to avoid alcohol to protect the health and development of the baby. Here are some options of drinks that you can try: 

Fruit Juices 

To reduce or to avoid the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant, Opt for pure fruit juices such as pomegranate juice and dragon fruit juice without added sugars, which ensures maximum nutritional benefits.  

Herbal Teas 

Certain herbal teas like chamomile and ginger can be soothing and offer potential health benefits. However, it's essential to choose pregnancy-safe options and avoid herbs that may have adverse effects. Herbal teas also cure the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. 


Non-alcoholic mocktails made with fruit juices and soda water offer a flavorful alternative to alcoholic beverages while providing hydration and essential nutrients. 

Sparkling Water 

Sparkling water can quench thirst and provide a refreshing sensation without the need for alcohol. Adding a splash of fruit juice or a slice of citrus enhances the taste without compromising health.  


Nutrient-packed smoothies made with fruits, vegetables, and dairy or dairy alternatives offer a convenient way to consume essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre during pregnancy. 

Homemade Lemonade 

Freshly prepared lemonade sweetened with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup offers a refreshing and hydrating beverage option without added sugars or artificial ingredients.  


Dietitian’s Recommendation  

As a dietitian, I strongly advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol entirely due to all the dangerous effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol can interfere with the intricate process of fetal growth and development, leading to a spectrum of complications known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These disorders can manifest as physical, cognitive, and behavioural challenges that may persist throughout a child's life.  

To promote the health and well-being of both mother and baby, I recommend maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet devoid of alcohol during pregnancy. Prioritising nutrient-rich foods and steering clear of alcohol can create an optimal environment for fetal development, ensuring the best possible start in life for the growing baby. 

  • Dt. Aditi Upadhyay 

The Final Say 

After getting to know all the possible effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant, it can be said that drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to a range of issues known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), affecting various aspects of the child's health and development. From physical abnormalities to learning difficulties and behavioural challenges, the consequences highlight the importance of avoiding alcohol completely during pregnancy.  


1. How does alcohol harm the growing baby?   

Alcohol can easily pass from the mother's bloodstream to the baby through the placenta. Because the baby's body is not equipped to handle alcohol, it can cause damage, especially to the brain and nervous system.  

2. Is it safe to have even a little alcohol during pregnancy?   

No, there is no known amount of alcohol that's safe during pregnancy. Drinking while pregnant, even in small amounts, can be harmful to the baby's development. 

3. What kind of physical problems can result from drinking alcohol during pregnancy?   

Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to issues like slower growth, unusual facial features, and damage to organs such as the brain.  


About ToneOp   

ToneOp is a platform dedicated to improving and maintaining good health through a comprehensive range of goal-oriented health plans with up to 3 Coach support. With a range of Weight Management, Medical Condition, Detox Plans, and Face Yoga Plans, the app also provides premium health trackers, recipes and health content. Get customised diet, fitness, naturopathy & yoga plans and transform yourself with ToneOp.   

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