A new survey says drinking when pregnant could cause depression in the child as they become teenagers.
Everybody knows having a baby is one of the most momentous decisions you could make in life. Most people are prepared to immediately alter their behaviour for the sake of the child, even if it affects their social life. One of the adjustments they could make is to give up drinking alcohol. However, despite the risks to both their child’s health and their own, many women still consume alcohol while pregnant. It is unfortunate, considering the information on the subject, that some don’t appreciate how harmful drinking when pregnant can be. It possibly impacts the child’s wellbeing, both mentally and physically, for years to come. The UK Chief Medical Officer advises if you are planning on having a baby, you should forego alcohol altogether to reduce the risk to your child.
When women drink during pregnancy, alcohol travels to the baby through the bloodstream, by way of the placenta. The liver in an unborn baby does not fully develop until near the end of pregnancy. Therefore, if a mother drinks in the first 3 months, it can increase the possibility of a premature birth, a low birth weight, or even miscarriage. If she consumes throughout pregnancy, her child could develop what is known as foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This is devastating condition with various symptoms. These range from stunted growth, to behavioural issues and learning difficulties. FAS babies are often born with distinctive facial features such as a low bridge of nose.
Now the long-term consequences of using alcohol when pregnant has been highlighted by a University of Bristol study. The research, appearing in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal concluded the children of mothers who drank while pregnant were more inclined to experience mental health problems in their teenage years. Researchers looked at over 14,500 women who had babies in the nineties. They checked whether their children showed signs of depressive illness when they reached 18. The study revealed more than four thousand had taken alcohol when pregnant, specifically between 18 and 32 weeks. It determined if a woman drank at her 18th week, there was an almost one-in-five chance the child could develop psychological issues such as depression late teens. This compares to 3% of babies from mothers who did not drink when pregnant.
The research used information from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), otherwise known as ‘Bristol’s Children of the 90s’ study. This is a continually developing research project that follows thousands of mothers-to-be, their spouses, partners, and children through life. They have been monitoring for almost thirty years, going back to the nineties. The survey emphasises the possible ongoing repercussions of drinking when pregnant which could extend for years. Many believe some mothers to be consumed alcohol partly due to outdated advice which suggested drinking a minimal amount may not harm their foetus.
Better to be teetotal
Experts feel it is better for the health of the child for pregnant women to abstain from alcohol altogether. Now taht we know this would have even longer term consequences than before birth. Abstaining would protect the development of the child in the womb, safeguard its birth and avoid psychological problems as a teenager. So, if you’re planning on getting pregnant you should stop drinking now. This could help your child’s mental health far into the future.