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Is drinking while pregnant safe?

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There are high risks associated with binge drinking and daily alcohol consumption. The amount, frequency and the stage of pregnancy all influence whether a foetus will be harmed. Damage caused by alcohol consumption is not just limited to the first trimester. It can also occur in later stages, when the foetus is growing and brain is developing.
Alcohol crosses the placenta, and reaches the developing foetus via your bloodstream. There is no doubt that heavy drinking, especially binge drinking (consuming five or more units of alcohol on one occasion), during pregnancy is not safe.

Studies have shown that heavy drinking (over six units a day) on a regular basis does affect the developing foetus and can result in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. FASD is the gravest of the damages caused by alcohol. It is characterised by abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies and brain damage. Babies born with FASD may be hyperactive and have difficulties with learning, speech, attention span and language development. Binge or heavy alcohol consumption dramatically increases the risk of a baby with FAS. High levels of alcohol consumption have been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.
 
Exactly how much is a unit of alcohol? One unit is defined as ten millilitres of pure alcohol (ethanol). Remember that if you are pouring drinks at home, the tendency is to be generous with your measures. It is also good to be aware that many wine bars and pubs sell their wines in large glasses which may contain as much as three units of alcohol.
 
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