Alcohol consumption among pregnant women has been a significant topic of debate among experts. Experts cannot reach an agreement whether pregnant women should be advised to take alcohol or be encouraged against any alcohol consumption. One aspect is evident that whatever the mother consumes, so does the baby. Consequently, if the mother takes alcohol, it directly influences the baby’s fragile organism. Excessive consumption of alcohol is devastating to the unborn baby as it tampers with its ability to acquire enough nourishment and oxygen. These elements are vital for brain and body system development. Research has shown that the fetus has a low tolerance for alcohol, and that babies who born to alcoholic mothers may develop serious complications before birth, at birth and in the future life.If you would like to develop this theme better then you can read about it in environmental pollution essay .
There are several adverse effects associated with excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. To begin with, the most common effect is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS hereafter). FAS refer to a pattern of physical and mental defects that occur in babies as a result of their mothers consuming a lot of alcohol during pregnancy. Apart from FAS, excessive consumption of alcohol is dangerous due to the huge number of problems associated with it. It has been found that babies born to alcoholic mothers have certain characteristics. These are low body weight, deformed sternum and ribs, facial abnormalities, small eye openings, organ deformities, defects of the kidney and urinary system, short attention span and poor hand, finger and general body coordination, to mention just a few. Such deformities do not affect the baby for a short while; they can cause a lifetime of emotional and physical pain. These devastating repercussions are presented as the main reason why some experts advise zero tolerance to alcohol during pregnancy.
Despite the fact these reasons evoke concern, it cannot be summarily concluded that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is entirely negative. Research has shown that there could be a positive influence of taking alcohol in limited, controlled and moderate amounts during pregnancy. It was determined that the children of women who had light drinking habits early in pregnancy exhibited behavior that was “more positive” than children born to women who completely abstained from alcohol during the entire period of their pregnancy. The amount of alcohol considered being moderate was 2 to 6 drinks every week or one drink each day. Positive behavior refers to children having less behavioral and emotional problems as they go through their childhood and adolescence.
The findings of the study concerning the effect of moderate alcohol intake on pregnant women relied on data collected for 14 years by the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort. The women involved in the study were required to provide the necessary information about their drinking tendencies every week. 59 percent of all the recorded women reported total abstinence; 20 percent reported that they drank occasionally (one standard drink each week); 15 percent of them reported light drinking (considered being between 2 to 6 drinks each week) while 3 percent of them reported moderate drinking. Moderate drinking involves taking between 7 and 10 drinks each week. Finally, 2 percent of the women reported heavy drinking. Heavy drinking involves taking more than 11 drinks each week. The study also included 2370 children, whose behavior was assessed after a period of 2 to 3 years from the moment they were two years old up to when they attained fourteen years old. In comparison to mothers who abstained from alcohol during the first trimester, mothers who were light drinkers had better behaved children when they attained 14 years. This was obtained from the psychologists’ standard checklist.
Furthermore, it was noted that the children belonging to mothers who were light and moderate drinkers over the course of their first trimester indicated highly reduced chances internalizing their behavior. Internalized behavior involves negativity that is directed inwards, for instance, depression. They also showed reduced chances of developing externalized behavior. Externalized behavior includes such harsh behavior as aggression towards other people. This case can be compared with children of total non-smokers who indicated higher chances of developing these conditions. For example, the study group of non-drinking mothers and their 14-year-old children was selected and showed the following results. It was found that there were 127 children who had developed internalizing problems and 159 children with indicated chronic externalizing issues.
In addition to such issues, the research has also determined that moderate drinkers develop a healthier mental state than non-drinkers and alcohol addicts. These examples are used to explain the findings of the study. The research suggests that a low dose of alcohol has a calming effect on the mother, which results in calm babies. Studies have also linked light drinking to positive cognitive results for children. However, these benefits are overshadowed by the emphasis on the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
Researchers at the University College of London found surprising results. They discovered that boys born to light-drinking mothers during their pregnancy performed better in tests than the sons of women who stayed away from alcohol during pregnancy. Additionally, light drinking during pregnancy and any cognitive or behavioral problems are unrelated. The study determined that the boys born to light-drinking mothers had a 40% probability to develop problems associated with conduct, and 30% were unlikely to suffer from hyperactivity. These results took into account the socioeconomic background of all the participants of the study. In addition to the findings concerning boys, the research also found that girls born to light drinkers were less likely to suffer from peer and emotional problems than girls born to abstainers.
Children of women who take over nine drinks per week are the ones considered being highly predisposed to the adverse effects of alcohol. Such women need assistance to curb their drinking habits. Despite the mentioned advantages of moderate drinking, there are other factors that determine whether a pregnant woman should drink or abstain. Some women have individual complications and may need to abstain from alcohol.
The results obtained from the research on the effects of moderate drinking on pregnant women did not show any correlation between moderate drinking and pregnancy complications. However, the danger lies in the limitation. It is difficult for a pregnant woman to distinguish between moderate drinking and excessive drinking. There are high chances that a woman will drink excessively without her awareness.
The difference in the opinion among experts who support light drinking and those who advocate for abstinence still exists. The lack of absolute certainty on the issue compelled many experts to insist on abstinence. Other observers, however, still find such an attitude to be illogical and, thus, conclude that the benefits and risks linked to light and moderate alcohol consumption, excluding hard liquor, can be favorably compared with most activities that the pregnant woman engages in her daily life.
In conclusion, the assumption that alcohol is bad for a pregnant woman does not have any strong arguments. Research studies have clearly determined that this is a mere fallacy. However, pregnant women should consume alcohol with utmost care since they may exceed the recommended amounts. Excesses may lead to harm.