Alcohol unsafe during pregnancy

If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Today, September 9, is Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day.

Foetal alcohol syndrome causes brain damage and growth problems. The problems caused vary from child to child, but defects caused by foetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible.

Signs and symptoms may include any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.


Physical defects may include:

  • Distinctive facial features, including wide-set eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short, upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip.
  • Deformities of joints, limbs and fingers.
  • Slow physical growth before and after birth.
  • Vision difficulties or hearing problems.
  • Small head circumference and brain size.
  • Heart defects and problems with kidneys and bones.


Problems with the brain and central nervous system may include:

  • Poor coordination or balance.
  • Intellectual disability, learning disorders and delayed development.
  • Poor memory.
  • Trouble with attention and with processing information.
  • Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving.
  • Difficulty identifying consequences of choices.
  • Poor judgment skills.
  • Jitteriness or hyperactivity.
  • Rapidly changing moods


Problems in functioning, coping and interacting with others may include:

  • Difficulty in school.
  • Trouble getting along with others.
  • Poor social skills.
  • Trouble adapting to change or switching from one task to another.
  • Problems with behaviour and impulse control.
  • Poor concept of time.
  • Problems staying on task.
  • Difficulty planning or working toward a goal.

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