According to the US Health Service, pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol during their entire pregnancy because the exact amount of alcohol it takes to harm the baby is still unknown.
If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it's as if your baby were drinking it too, and so you run the risk of your baby developing birth defects or disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Fetal alcohol syndrome
This syndrome can cause low birth weights, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. As adults, they are more prone to developing mental disorders and a dependence on drugs and alcohol, and in addition, they usually don't manage to finish their education because they suffer from behavioral problems.
If you plan on getting pregnant, or if you're in your child-bearing years, remember that your health as well as that of your future baby depends on you, and all these problems can be prevented if you just stop drinking.
Nicotine and pregnancy
Just as with alcohol, cigarettes can also harm your baby, and you run the risk of your baby suffering from birth defects such as:
- Low birth weight
- Cleft palate
- Heart defects
- Imperforate anus (unable to adequately expel feces and gases)
- Risk of death during the baby's first year of life.
Nicotine also causes blood vessels from the umbilical cord or uterus to contract thus limiting the amount of oxygen that reaches the baby's lungs and the amount of blood that reaches the baby's heart.
Keep in mind that you should also avoid smoking while you breastfeed so you don't transmit nicotine to your baby through mother's milk.
Consult your doctor
If you're pregnant, it helps to talk to your doctor so he/she can guide you on how to carry out a healthy pregnancy. It's important to visit your doctor regularly during this period in order to prevent or identify any health problems you or your baby may have.
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