The Effects of Alcohol on Babies

The effects of alcohol consumption on a baby in utero are extremely severe. Though there is speculation on the severity of effects on a baby that is being breastfed, in an article by the La Leche League, it was stated that in large consumption, a baby can still suffer from "possible" side effects of its mother's alcohol consumption. If a mother consumes alcohol while pregnant, she puts her baby at greater risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, central nervous system issues, and even fetal death or possible miscarriage. Fetal alcohol syndrome can have a lasting effect on a child who is born with it. Under no circumstance should a woman ever drink while being pregnant.


Fetal alcohol syndrome, is the result of a baby begin subjected to alcohol while in the womb. According to the Mayo Clinic, when a women consumes alcohol while pregnant, the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible and can have lasting neurological disorders, as well as physical disorders. As a result of alcohol consumption, a baby can suffer from facial deformities such as small eyes. Other effects can include:

  • heart issues
  • deformities of limbs
  • small birth weight
  • sleep issues
  • mental retardation,
  • emotional issues such as hyperactivity or nervousness



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ARND refers to alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. When a baby becomes exposed to alcohol prenatally, the baby can be exposed to the risk of having functional or mental issues. Learning difficulties can occur as as the child becomes older. Issues such as memory, attention deficit, or poor impulse control can also happen.


Alcohol can be transferred through the breast milk. Too much alcohol consumption while breastfeeding can result in the infant becoming too drowsy, not being able to be roused easily, or the child being weak. The infant may also have an inability to gain weight normally. It is also possible for the mother to not be able to eject milk as frequently for her infant if she drinks more than two alcoholic beverages in one day. In an article by the La Leche League, it was suggested that a nursing mother not breastfeed during consumption of alcohol, or for two or three hours after having had an alcoholic beverage.



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According to the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human reproduction, mothers who consumed alcohol while pregnant can sometimes have a child born with abnormal facial features such as flat cheeks, upturned noses, and eyes that are abnormally small. The brain may also develop unusually by either being too small or be abnormally formed, which will then result in mental disability. The defects become more pronounced if the mother is a heavy drinker or binge drinker.


As a mother drinks, alcohol passes from the mother through the placenta, and finally into the baby. A baby can't process alcohol as an adult would be able to. The alcohol concentration in a fetus is higher than it is an adult, and the alcohol also prohibits the passing of oxygen to the baby's brain and other organs. As a result, deformities can occur, especially during the baby's most crucial development, which is during the first trimester.


It is not recommended that expecting mothers drink while being pregnant. The possible risks involved are far greater to the child. As the child grows older, they may have language/speech delays, low IQ, or have the inability to do basic functions, such as tying their shoes. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a permanent condition that will last a lifetime for a child. Such risks can be eliminated by choosing not to drink.