Each year, 40,000 children are born with abnormalities resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. Wine coolers are a type of sweet alcoholic beverage that contain wine, sugar and fruit juice. The alcohol content in these drinks ranges from 11 to 14 percent, making them highly toxic to a developing fetus. The effects of drinking while pregnant range in severity based on how much and how frequently you consume alcohol. The United States Health Department, Surgeon General and American Pregnancy Association all agree that consuming alcohol at any point in your pregnancy is dangerous and can damage your baby's development for life.
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How Alcohol Reaches Your Baby
Your baby consumes everything you ingest during pregnancy. Your bloodstream provides nutrients and oxygen, but also carries alcohol along with any other toxins you consume. The alcohol in your blood passes through the placental wall and blocks the necessary oxygen from reaching your baby. Your baby metabolizes alcohol more slowly than an adult, which causes the alcohol to remain in her bloodstream for a longer period of time. Consuming wine coolers is dangerous at any point during your pregnancy, but according to the American Pregnancy Association, the risk of alcohol-related neurological damage is greatest during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder
Your baby's brain begins developing during the third week of your pregnancy and continues growing until birth. Drinking just one wine cooler a day, or seven wine coolers throughout the week, causes irreversible neurological damage known as Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. The effects range from social, behavioral and attention problems to low IQ scores and learning disabilities. According to Dr. Jody Allen Crowe, director of Healthy Brains for Children in New Hampshire, children exposed to alcohol prenatally have difficulty utilizing their natural IQ due to their white brain cells damaged by alcohol. The result is that even inherently bright children appear "delayed" and unintelligent because their neuron synapses are slow and inefficient.
Alcohol-Related Birth Defects
Alcohol-related birth defects result from regularly drinking more than seven wine coolers in a week or five wine coolers in one sitting. The constant and heavy supply of alcohol to your baby's brain causes physical abnormalities ranging from malformed internal organs and bones to mental retardation. Exposure to alcohol can also affect your baby's facial features, including smaller, further-set eyes and an abnormally thin upper lip. In its most severe form, regularly binge-drinking wine coolers during your pregnancy can cause your baby to be stillborn.
Not every women realizes that she's pregnant immediately after conceiving. Even if you drank wine coolers earlier in your pregnancy, stop drinking alcohol immediately. You can't reverse any potential damage, but maintaining sobriety for the rest of your pregnancy will reduce the risk of further damage. Not all alcohol-related damage is apparent at birth or in early childhood. As Dr. Crowe notes, someone exposed to alcohol in the womb could appear "fine," but you'll never know how much smarter, healthier and more accomplished she'd be if her mother didn't drink alcohol while pregnant.