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Alcohol consumption during pregnancy may have decreased – “There is no actual safe time of use for the fetus” – Domestic

The risks of drinking are now better known than before.

Alcohol and drug use during pregnancy is not recorded in Finland, so there is no reliable monitoring data. However, it is known that the average alcohol consumption of Finns has decreased slightly in recent years.

At the same time, awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy has increased and the issue is being monitored more closely in counseling centers. It is therefore likely that alcohol consumption during pregnancy has also decreased, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

According to studies a few years ago, an estimated 6 percent of women have consumed alcohol during pregnancy, says THL’s research manager Reija Klemetti.

– Drug use, on the other hand, has increased in the 21st century, so it is possible that it will happen even more during pregnancy. For example, nearly half of problem users of opioids and amphetamines are between the ages of 25 and 34, and women make up about a third of them, Klemetti says.

The most dangerous substance for the fetus is alcohol

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Specialist in gynecology at the Women’s Clinic of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District Henna Kahilan It is estimated that half of pregnancies are unplanned. Many women continue to use alcohol as usual until a positive pregnancy test.

– The fetus is exposed to all the drugs used by the mother, and the biggest things happen right in the first trimester of pregnancy. There is therefore no actual safe time of use for the fetus, and the safest option would be for the lifestyle to be in order even before pregnancy is attempted, Kahila points out.

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Fetal alcohol exposure can lead to intellectual disability.­

According to Kahila, the most dangerous substance for the fetus is alcohol. Alcohol use during pregnancy predisposes the child to neurological development problems and deformities. The most common of these is ARND, or damage to the central nervous system caused by alcohol exposure.

The damage includes difficulties in problem-solving, task planning, understanding and producing demanding language tasks, and specific characteristics of behavior, such as difficulties in interactions and sensitivity to emotional life.

Alcohol exposure can cause individual learning difficulties, or it can lead to intellectual disability.

– Pregnancy is a very motivating factor for lifestyle changes, because basically mothers want the best for their baby. In the case of drug addiction, the disease causes compulsive drug use, and then help is needed to make the change, Kahila reminds.

There are the same risks associated with drugs

The risks of drug use during pregnancy are influenced by, among other things, the time of use and the amount of drugs used. According to Kahila, it is common for a fetus to be exposed to a number of different substances and often also to tobacco in connection with drug use. In this case, it can be difficult to assess what is the consequence of something.

– Like alcohol use during pregnancy, drug use can affect a child’s cognitive functions and behavior and can manifest as hyperactivity, learning difficulties or social interaction problems, for example.

In women with drug problems, the menstrual cycle is often irregular and early onset of pregnancy is not detected.

Fewer and fewer pregnant women smoke

Smoking during pregnancy continued to be fairly stable in Finland from the 1980s until 2016, until it finally began to decline, says Reija Klemetti from THL.

– This is explained by the fact that smoking has generally decreased and become less trendy. However, the work of the clinics and the change in the attitudes of pregnant women have been of the greatest importance. Awareness of the harms of smoking has spread and has been taken seriously, Klemetti says.

In the second year, about 11 percent of pregnant women smoke. More than half of them quit smoking during early pregnancy. According to Klemet, the most common smoking during pregnancy is among very young mothers and the less educated.

Henna Kahila of the Women’s Clinic says that smoking increases the risk of premature birth and placental abruption and can even triple the risk of fetal growth failure. Smoking also increases the risk of stillbirth and sudden death.

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