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What You Should Know about Alcohol and Pregnancy

Photo: Three women

CDC urges pregnant women not to drink alcohol any time during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.

Women also should not drink alcohol if they are planning to become pregnant or are sexually active and do not use effective birth control.

This is because a woman could become pregnant and not know for several weeks or more. In the United States half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Why is Alcohol Dangerous during Pregnancy?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes through the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Read more about the characteristics and behaviors of children with FASDs and how much alcohol is too much to drink during pregnancy.

FASDs are 100% preventable

If a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her child cannot have an FASD. Learn more about FASDs
Watch a video about living with FASDs

Information for Health Care Providers

CDC’s FASD website offers tools and information about FASDs for health care providers, including guidelines for screening and advising patients of reproductive age about risky drinking as well as free educational materials to give to patients.

More Information