Is it safe to drink during pregnancy?
No, alcohol can harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy. Although the highest risk is to babies whose mothers drink heavily, it is not clear yet whether there is any completely safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. For this reason, the U.S. Surgeon General released advisories in 1981 and again in 2005 urging women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to abstain from alcohol.
The damage caused by prenatal alcohol includes a range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems in babies.
Babies most severely affected have what is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). These babies may have abnormal facial features and severe learning disabilities. Babies can also be born with mild disabilities without the facial changes typical of FAS.
(See also "NIAAA Pamphlets and Brochures," Drinking and Your Pregnancy.)