Survey shows 18 percent of women drink during the first trimester

You might already know that it's important to stay away from alcohol during pregnancy, but how good have you been about avoiding a glass or two while expecting? If you're guilty of taking a sip in the midst of the pregnancy calendar, you're not alone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently came out with new survey results that showed that about 18 percent of women drink alcohol during the first trimester. About 6 percent of women binge drink in this time period.

"Alcohol can disrupt fetal development at any stage during a pregnancy, even before a woman knows she is pregnant," the authors wrote in their study. "If a woman is pregnant, there is no known amount or type of alcohol that is safe for her to drink."

Despite warnings from healthcare providers, it appears that women are still having trouble saying no to a sip or two while expecting. However, this new research may encourage doctors to be more adamant about educating their patients on the dangers of drinking while carrying a child.

Pregnancy and alcohol
One of the biggest reasons why health experts warn against drinking during pregnancy is because of fetal alcohol syndrome. This condition can negatively affect a baby's physical and mental development in the womb.

Even if a baby doesn't experience fetal alcohol syndrome during pregnancy, she or he still may be subject to conditions such as premature birth, vision problems, hearing complications and organ defects pertaining to the heart, brain or lungs. The effects on an unborn child may be mild to severe, and the only way to avoid them altogether is to steer clear of alcohol while expecting.

One drink can be simply defined as a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce glass of beer or 1.5 ounce serving of liquor, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. While some women may assume that a small amount of alcohol is acceptable during pregnancy, the fact of the matter is that liquor should be avoided altogether to ensure the utmost safety of a baby. Partners can help expectant mothers stay away from alcohol by providing positive encouragement and limiting alcohol consumption around them.

Did you indulge in a drink or two before you knew you were pregnant? Which one of your vices was the toughest to give up during pregnancy? Leave your feedback in the comments section!