When a woman is pregnant, the first thing her doctor will tell her is to take a folic acid supplement. This is a vitamin that is very important for the growth of the baby in utero, but when alcohol is introduced into the mix, things can go from a bad to terrible.

One of the properties of alcohol is that it halts the absorption of folic acid. Needless to say that when pregnant, no woman should drink, but the reason is often not discussed. Alcohol stops the reuptake of folic acid, which is necessary for the growth of the baby. When the foetus is inside the uterus, it requires folic acid for development of the different parts of the body. If alcohol is consumed at any point, folic acid does not make it way to the baby and that means that development is halted.

If you look at it from the perspective that the point of imbibing alcohol may be at the same time at which an arm or leg is being formed, you will understand that the development stops. This is why those children who are born of alcoholic mothers are at a higher risk for missing limbs, underdeveloped organs and even brain damage.

One of the most important things to note here is foetal alcohol syndrome. Inside the mother’s body, a foetus will get used to having certain vitamins and minerals transmitted through the placenta. If a woman has been drinking while pregnant, the chances of the baby becoming addicted to alcohol are high too, and this means that when the baby is eventually born, it will go through the process of detoxing. While this is dangerous for an adult, for a newborn it may be fatal.

The main message here?

Never drink while pregnant.

You may feel that it is okay to have a glass of wine every now and again while pregnant, but remember that that may be the point that your baby’s brain is developing, and that by drinking you are cutting off the process.

Read more about alcohol addiction treatment here.