Alcohol and Pregnancy

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that the most preventable cause of birth defects, including the ability of a child to develop intellectually and neurologically is the use of alcohol.

Here were the key points:

  • Alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disabilities are completely preventable when pregnant women abstain from alcohol use
  •  Neurocognitive and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong
  •  Early recognition, diagnosis, and therapy for any condition along the FASD continuum can result in improved outcomes
  •  During pregnancy:
    • no amount of alcohol intake should be considered safe
    • there is no safe trimester to drink alcohol
    • all forms of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and liquor, pose similar risk
    • binge drinking poses dose-related risk to the developing fetus


In addition the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology has long stated that no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy. Maternal alcohol use is the leading cause of mental retardation – and children exposed to alcohol in utero are at risk for growth deficiencies, facial deformities, behavioral disorders, impaired intellectual development, and drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and stillbirth.

The bottom line according to ACOG: Women should avoid alcohol entirely while pregnant or trying to conceive because damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.

There have been occasional reports in the media that “moderation” or “an occasional drink” is ok – but they are incorrect. There is no safe level of alcohol to a developing fetus. It is not safe to have “a beer” or “a glass of wine” during pregnancy.



From the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Janet F. Williams, MD, FAAP, Vincent C. Smith, MD, MPH, FAAP, the COMMITTEE ON SUBSTANCE ABUSE . Published Online October 19, 2015

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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