Here’s Another Scary Reason Not to Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy

By now, we all pretty much know that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a big fat no-no. (Along with having coffee, lunch meat, sushi, and strangely, licorice?)

The point is, we know that alcohol is one of the major things that can hurt our unborn babies in a big way. So most women avoid alcohol of any kind during their pregnancies. And a new study is further confirming that laying off the spirits is definitely a good idea, as drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have one scary side effect: It can actually change your baby's face. 

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And what's even scarier? The changes in the babies' faces happened after as little as two drinks at once during pregnancy. In fact, the study specifically looked at supposed “low” doses of alcohol, defined as nothing more than seven drinks in a week's time and no more than two drinks at once. 

Image via Flickr/ Quinn Dombrowski

The study looked at data of facial images from 415 one-year-old infants to examine the changes in their faces. They found subtle changes around the nose, eyes, and lips that happened with pretty much any amount of alcohol that the mother drank during her pregnancy at any time. 

The changes are so small that you can't see them with the naked eye, so the researchers used a special computerized digital facial imaging software to detect the changes, but nonetheless, they are there. 

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So if the changes are so small, that you can't even see them, why does this matter? The study's researchers note that they are important because it means that there could be other, undetected changes in the brain, which would affect things like baby's developments, abilities, and personalities. In the JAMA Pediatrics article, the researchers explained that the changes in a baby's face, especially around the forehead, are associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a serious condition that causes severe developmental and cognitive delays. 

The changes were more pronounced with drinking during the first trimester. This is a concern because some women don't even realize they are pregnant and may be drinking a considerable amount of alcohol. However, the changes happened with any drinking at any trimester of pregnancy. So the official recommendation from the JAMA Pediatrics team is for all pregnant women to avoid drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.

“This means that any level of alcohol contributes to the way the face is formed and raises questions about the possible impact on brain development, which is the subject of further research,” commented the study's lead author Evelyne Muggli of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne in Australia to Reuter's Health

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Here’s Another Scary Reason Not to Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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