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Pregnancy and alcohol – risks and effects on the developing baby

fetal; foetal; alcohol; pregnancy; FASD; syndrome; ;


If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, no alcohol is the safest choice.


Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm a baby

  • Alcohol crosses the placenta to the developing baby
  • The alcohol will reach the developing baby very quickly and its blood alcohol level will be the same as yours
  • Alcohol can cause permanent harm to a developing baby at any stage during the pregnancy
  • Alcohol can affect the baby's body and in particular the baby's brain development
  • You can't see the brain and you might not know if the baby is OK or not until the child is older.

What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?

Often pregnancy is unplanned and women drink alcohol before they know they are pregnant.

  • Small amounts of alcohol consumed before you are aware of your pregnancy carry a lower risk but are still a risk
  • Heavy or binge drinking carries a higher risk for the baby

If you can, stop drinking alcohol as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If not, talk to your midwife or doctor.

Stopping alcohol use at any stage of the pregnancy will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

More information  

For women in South Australia seeking support for stopping drinking contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (24 hour counselling) 1300 13 13 40

National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia (NOFASD) ph. 1300 306 238

Women want to know project, Department of Health, Australia

Telethon Institute of Child Health Research:

Pregnancy, birth and baby Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents of children, from birth to 5 years of age.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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