Alcohol: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. If you’re pregnant, drinking alcohol can put a baby at risk. They may develop a physical, behavioral, or mental disability. A disability caused by alcohol during pregnancy is called a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). 

FASDs affect one in 20 kids in the U.S. Learn more about FASDs and ways to have a healthy pregnancy.

Fetal alcohol syndrome

No amount of alcohol is known to be safe to drink during pregnancy. A fetus gets exposed to the same amount of alcohol as the pregnant person. This can affect how it grows and develops. 

Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe type of FASD. It can lead to a baby having:

  • Certain facial features.
  • Disabilities in the brain or central nervous system. 
  • Trouble growing.

Exposing a fetus to alcohol also increases the risk of:

  • Miscarriage.
  • Premature birth.
  • Stillbirth.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Support and resources for a healthy baby

When it comes to alcohol, it’s best to avoid it if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. In the U.S., almost half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Since a person often doesn’t know they’re pregnant for up to four to six weeks, they may drink alcohol while pregnant. 

If you become pregnant, stop drinking alcohol right away. This includes alcohol from any drink, including beer and wine. Every day counts. The sooner you stop drinking, the safer it will be for you and your growing baby. 

Substance use treatment

If you’re having trouble not drinking alcohol during pregnancy, help is available. Health care providers know the risks of alcohol use and can help pregnant people make the best choices for their health. 

In Wisconsin, pregnant people get priority for substance use treatment. To find help:

Other resources

Select a link to learn more about a program or resource:

In Wisconsin:

Across the U.S.:

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
Free, confidential, 24/7 mental health support for moms and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. English- and Spanish-speaking counselors are available. Call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746).

Last Revised: August 6, 2022