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Does alcohol harm the fetus during the early period of pregnancy?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2010
Answered : 126 Questions
Hi Doctor, I am currently deployed overseas (war-zone) and suspect I am pregnant, and I have tested positive on the test a couple of days ago. This was unexpected, as I was on the pill while I was with my fiance on R&R. (However, I resumed taking the pill at the start of this R&R in late March after a break from the pill of a couple of months, after I knew I was going to be with him and we were having some problems in our relationship; when I commenced taking the pill again it was a couple of weeks after the last period, thus was mid-cycle.) I suspect i conceived in late March, likely within the first couple of days of this R&R, but at the time, was unaware and for the full three weeks of R&R drank wine/champagne almost daily, and a couple of times consumed more than 4 drinks. (Was in club lounge for one week, the 3rd R&R week, with complimentary drinks.) As of today, it is 10 May, and I have not had anything to drink since mid-late April. Only took a pregnancy test a couple of weeks ago b/c of some symptoms to include no period. Terrified to think I could have done something to the fetus at this early stage and unfortunately I will not be able to go and see a doctor until my assignment finishes in over a month. Have been scouring the internet and am very worried about the effects of alcohol during those first three weeks....thank you so much in advance for any advice you might be able to offer.
Posted Mon, 23 Apr 2012 in Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
Answered by Dr. Tulasi Raman.P 3 hours later
Hi Grace,

Thanks for your query.

Your urine test says that you are pregnant. And from your history it seems that you have been consuming heavy amount of alcohol when you conceived and thereof.

As this has happened in the early period of the pregnancy which is very vital in the development of the baby it is highly possible that the baby would be affected.

I strongly suggest that you consult an Obstetrician. You need to be examined, you may have to do few blood and urine tests. But as you say you cannot consult any doctor. There is very little that can done without the help of a doctor.

Hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries I will be available to answer them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does alcohol harm the fetus during the early period of pregnancy? 4 hours later
The early period of pregnancy meaning the first three weeks after conception - mostly the third week, when i drank approximately half a bottle of wine for one week. I am freaking out. Highly possible that the baby was affected?! geez. Thought there was a period of time in the early weeks when the baby is more protected from the mother's intake of food, drink, etc. thus allowing for the pregnancy to be discovered?

Also, I was on the pill at the time and wonder if this could have affected the time of conception apart from after around 2 weeks of the last period. Meaning, maybe I wasn't ovulating during this time and it occurred later on?
Answered by Dr. Tulasi Raman.P 10 hours later
Hi Grace,

Thanks for writing back to me.

I am sorry to say that there is no such protected period for the baby in the mothers womb.

This is a citation which you can refer:
"Both spontaneous abortion and fetal anomalies may result from frequent alcohol use during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy" - (Floyd and associates, 1999)

Yes, because of your "on and off" of taking pills it is possible that your cycle could have been deranged. So lets pray and hope that you conceived at a later period when you had refrained from consuming alcohol. Thereby keeping the baby safe.

So I suggest you refrain from alcohol at-least till you are able to consult an Obstetrician.

Hope my answer has been adequate and informative.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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