A Known Cause of Lifelong Birth Defects
Disclaimer: This page houses important information and resources pertaining to alcohol during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including links to our evidence-based Fact Sheets. However, the resources here should not replace the care and advice of a medical professional.
Alcohol is known to cause birth defects when it is consumed during pregnancy. It especially targets a baby’s brain, which is developing throughout all 40 weeks of pregnancy. There is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy, and there is no type of alcohol that is safe to use. Alcohol crosses the placenta easily and reaches the developing baby. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can cause a range of life-long physical defects and intellectual, learning and behavioral difficulties that are known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Affected individuals have mild-to-severe challenges meeting developmental milestones at home, in school, at work, and in society.
Reference: CDC and FASD: Alcohol Use During Pregnancy Can Lead to Lifelong Effects
Alcohol consumed by a breastfeeding woman can also be found in her breastmilk. The amount of alcohol found in breastmilk is about the same level of alcohol that is found in a woman’s bloodstream. Things like pumping and discarding milk, drinking water, taking caffeine, or exercising do not help your body get rid of the alcohol faster; only time can reduce the amount of alcohol in breastmilk.
“Of all the substances of abuse—including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana—alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in a developing baby.”— Institute of Medicine
Please see our library of resources below on alcohol exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Related Fact Sheets
Related Baby Blogs
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- March of Dimes
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)
- SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator