Abuja - Pregnant women, who consume alcohol, risk giving birth to babies with low birth weight and congenital defects, a family physician, Dr Yinka Ajayi of the Police Service Hospital in Lokoja, has said.
Ajayi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that alcohol had a direct toxic effect on the development of the foetus.
According to her, alcohol goes through the placenta into the blood of the unborn baby, thereby having the same concentration as the mother’s.
The doctor said, “When a mother drinks, the baby receives alcohol; hence no safe level of maternal alcohol intake has been established.
“A pregnant woman, who drinks any amount of alcohol is at risk of having a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).”
NAN reports that FAS is a combination of defects and disabilities that causes growth deficiencies, mental retardation and development delays to name a few.
Ajayi said that a child suffering from the disorder would have abnormalities on the face.
She said that maternal alcohol use during pregnancy had also been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and various forms of childhood cancers.
Ajayi said: "If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you give up drinking, the earlier the better.
"While drinking in early pregnancy is more likely to be associated with birth defects, drinking later in pregnancy is associated with smaller foetal size and low birth weight.
"Stopping at anytime, therefore will allow your baby the opportunity to catch up in growth before birth."
She said that giving up alcohol early in pregnancy or late in pregnancy had its toll on the unborn baby, and stressed the need to avoid alcohol completely.
The physician cautioned on the need for awareness creation for women of child bearing age to take folic acid on a daily basis, and said that this would prevents any form of congenital disorder that could arise.