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Does alcohol intake in first trimester impact neurodevelopment and cause cognitive delays in fetus?

May 2014
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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 6506 Questions
On day 15 or 16 of my pregnancy, I drank a considerable amount of alcohol at a wedding. I have read a number of articles that suggest could have a significant impact on the neurodevelopment of the fetus, lower iq and cause cognitive delays. Is there any credibility to these articles? If the placenta has not taken over, how does alcohol reach the fetus?
Posted Sat, 4 Jan 2014 in Pregnancy
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail 2 hours later
Brief Answer: Do not worry Detailed Answer: Hi, Thanks for writing in to us. I have read through your query in detail. You have highlighted a very controversial question. I'm pleased to inform you that your baby is safe. Recent study on the subject shows that an international team of researchers is reporting that pregnant women who drink alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy and possibly beyond aren’t putting their babies at risk for premature birth or low birth weight, or themselves at risk for high blood pressure complications during pregnancy. This material is published internationally and if you're interested in reading more please click on the link below. WWW.WWWW.WW This is only a primary finding and does not support drinking during pregnancy in any way. Please don't worry if you had a drink on 15th or 16th day but visit your doctor regularly and if possible please stay away from alcohol for a while. Hope your query is answered. Do write back if you have any doubts. Regards, Dr.Vivek
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does alcohol intake in first trimester impact neurodevelopment and cause cognitive delays in fetus? 16 hours later
I did not just have "a" drink, i had many drinks throughout the night; around 5 or 6 glasses of wine. How, if at all, would this affect the fetus? Could this impair brain development? If so, how? And i dont belive this question was answered initially, if the placenta has not attached on day 16 - how would alcohol pass through the fetus?
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail 4 hours later
Brief Answer: Please find detailed answer below Detailed Answer: Hi XXXXXXX Thanks for writing back with an update. We need to discuss your question from the fundamentals. Exposure to high amounts of alcohol can have deleterious effects on the growing fetus but this effect appears to vary with the cells within the embryo and not all the cells are affected equally. The route of alcohol exposure to the developing embryo remains through blood alcohol levels. Research has focused on the embryo’s vulnerability to the facial malformations which is a characteristic of fetal alcohol syndrome. Studies have been done on mice and chicks show that alcohol exposure at specific stages of early embryo development results in significant death among the cells destined to give rise to facial structures (i.e., cranial neural crest cells). Some of the cells on exposure to significantly higher levels of alcohol go into self destructive mode and cause growth abnormalities. Researchers have advanced several theories to explain how alcohol triggers cell destruction in the neural crest cells. These theories include 1. deficiency in a type of vitamin A compound, retinoic acid; 2. reduced levels of antioxidant compounds (i.e., free radical scavengers) that protect against damage from toxic oxygen molecules (i.e., free radicals); and 3. interference with the cell’s normal internal communication pathways. However all pregnant subjects may not show the same response to similar alcohol intake. There is exchange of blood metabolites between the mother and embryo from the time implantation occurs. I guess we have clarified how the alcohol reaches the fetus even before placenta formation. Keeping in perspective you situation, 5 to 6 glasses of wine taken just once may not have any significant impact on your growing fetus. Any impairment in brain development also depends on other factors like retinoic acid and free radicals as discussed above. An isolated event has a very rare possibility of causing any problems but I suggest that you be careful about your alcohol intake for the present. Hope your query is answered. Do write back if you have any doubts. Regards, Dr.Vivek
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