Potential effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Exposure to alcohol can seriously affect the baby's development, particularly the brain and spinal cord.
Binge drinking is more harmful than drinking small amounts of alcohol. However, there is no "safe" level of alcohol use during pregnancy.
A baby exposed to alcohol in the womb is more prone to illness, physical problems, and learning and behavioural disorders. A baby may have any of the following problems:
Poor growth while in the womb and after birth, so the baby is shorter and smaller than average, sometimes with deformed limbs
Small head and jaw
Distinctive facial features such as small eyes set far apart, a thin upper lip, a smooth philtrum (ridge that runs below the nose to the top lip)
Cerebral palsy - a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles, which affects movement and co-ordination
Learning disorders - problems with thinking, speech, social skills and/or memory (for example, finding it difficult to translate thinking into saying, or reading into speaking)
Mood, attention or behavioural problems - for example, autistic-like behaviour, ADHD or sleep problems
Problems with the liver, kidneys, heart or other organs
Hearing and sight problems
A weak immune system