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Substance and Addiction Prevention Branch

​​Pregnant Person

​Alcohol Use During Pregnancy​​ or While Nursing ​

Alcohol Use During Pregnancy 

There is no safe amount, safe timeframe, or safe type of alcohol use during pregnancy. Alcohol in the pregnant person’​s bloodstream passes to the fetus (developing baby)​ through the umbilical cord. Binge drinking and heavy drinking increase the risk for severe problems.​Pregnant woman refusing alcohol

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause:​

FASDs are a group of lifelong and permanent behavioral, intellectual, and physical challenges that range from mild to severe. The most severe form of FASDs is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which is associated with intellectual disabilities and birth defects. FASDs are preventable if a person does not drink alcohol while pregnant or while trying to become pregnant.

Alcohol use during pregnancy remains a leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States. Visit the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders webpa​ge​ for more information.

Alcohol Use While Nursing​

​The safest option for a baby is for the nursing parent to avoid drinking alcohol. However, it may not be ​harmful to have up to one standard drink per day and waiting at least two hours after a single drink before nursing. Any amount over one standard drink per day could be harmful to the baby’s development, growth, and sleep patterns. It is best to stop alcohol use while nursing instead of stopping nursing so that the baby can receive the health benefits of nursing (visit this page for mor​e information on ​breastfeeding​).

Woman nursing a baby.

​Need Help?​​

If you are pregnant or nursing and having a hard time with alcohol, talk with a trusted health care provider or call SAMHSA’s confidential, free, 24/7 National Hotline at 1-800-662-4357. It is never too late to get help. 

For questions, please contact us at​gov.​

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