A recent study by the University of California, San Diego indicates that the most risky time for a woman to drink alcohol during her pregnancy is late in the first trimester. Read on to learn more about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy have been well documented. However, you may also read about "safe" amounts of alcohol consumption, which can be confusing. A recent study shows that risk to a woman's baby is highest if alcohol is consumed in the second half of the first trimester.

Risky times

A study conducted by a team led by Haruna Sawada Feldman from the University of California, San Diego recently revealed that the most dangerous time for a woman to drink alcohol during pregnancy is from week six to week 12. The research studied nearly 1,000 women during their pregnancies over a period of three decades.

Fetal alcohol syndrome

The research concluded that a mother's baby was 25 percent more likely to have the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) for every drink per day increase during the second half of the first trimester. FAS/FASD are commonly known to cause birth defects that including learning disorders, attention disorders, skeletal defects (such as smaller head size, an abnormally shaped lip or altered eye appearance), vision and hearing defects, epilepsy and other issues. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy also causes growth deficiencies in both weight and height.

Drinking at all during the later part of the first trimester can be extremely risky to the health of your baby.

Co-author of the study, professor Philip May of the University of North Carolina, said, "This paper clearly illustrates that drinking alcohol, especially binge drinking, during the first seven to 12 weeks of gestation is associated with four of the most important facial features characteristic of FAS as well as reductions in birth length and weight that are also characteristic of infants and children with FAS."

Despite some professionals' saying that small amounts of alcohol are safe during pregnancy, this study would indicate the contrary. Drinking at all during the later part of the first trimester can be extremely risky to the health of your baby.

More about the first trimester

First trimester ultrasound: What to expect
Morning sickness until midnight
I'm pregnant! Creative ways to share the news

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