Alcohol, pregnancy and breast feeding A risk for the unborn child
How much can you drink during pregnancy?
Alcohol and breast feeding
During pregnancy alcohol has the same effect on health as with non-pregnant women, but for the unborn child alcohol is indeed a risk. For these reasons it is best to avoid alcoholic drinks as much as possible during pregnancy.
When an expectant mother drinks alcohol, it is absorbed in the blood and goes straight to the unborn child via the placenta. When a pregnant woman is under the influence, so is her child.
With pregnant women who drink regularly, the baby is often smaller at birth. Whether this effect can be fully attributed to alcohol consumption is not clear, because women who drink alcohol regularly often smoke too. Smoking during pregnancy in itself leads to a lower birth weight.
Older pregnant women and pregnant women with a higher level of education seem to regularly drink alcohol during pregnancy. Smoking, on the other hand, occurs more often in younger pregnant women and women with a lower education level. Research shows that for women who smoke a lot during pregnancy and who drink more than 12 glasses of alcohol per week, the birth weight of the child is 7% less on average than with women who smoke a lot but do not drink (1).
A clear relationship was also found between high alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the behaviour of the child at 5-6 years of age. Children whose mothers had drunk more than one glass a day were 12 times more likely to exhibit hyperactive behaviour than children whose mothers had not drunk during pregnancy. By the age of 15, this link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and behaviour could no longer be demonstrated, however (1).