The consumption of alcohol by women during pregnancy may have adverse effects not only on the incidence of diseases, injuries, and other health conditions to the women but also on their newborns and children. Worldwide, pregnant women may consume alcohol without fully understanding the ill effects of consuming alcohol. This is not any different in Uganda.
It’s important to note that since alcohol passes through the placenta, fetal blood may have the same blood alcohol concentration or higher than that of the mother which can result in various adverse effects on the fetus besides the risk of harm to the mother. The body of the fetus (unborn baby) during the developmental stage does not similarly process alcohol as an adult does. Hence, alcohol is more concentrated in the body of the fetus, and it can prevent the passage of adequate amounts of nutrition and oxygen to the vital organs of the fetus according to available research.
Subsequently, the teratogenic effects of fetal alcohol exposure may lead to actual and potential problems, instantly after birth, during infancy, or even later, leading to anatomical abnormalities, behavioral problems, and mental impairment in life.
On the other hand, a wide range of birth defects termed as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has been associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. FASD can cause problems with:
- Learning and behaviour
- Joints, bones, muscles, and some organs
- Managing emotions and developing social skills
- Hyperactivity and impulse control
- Communication, such as problems with speech
With alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the risk is likely to be greater the more you drink. Therefore, it is recommended that if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should not drink alcohol, as this will keep any risk to your baby to a minimum.
Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; is practicing Nurse & Midwife and a Women’s’ Health Specialist