CT Clearinghouse

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Prenatal exposure to alcohol (beer, wine, or hard liquor) is the leading cause of preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities.


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Alcohol exposure during the first trimester, maybe even before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause major birth defects.  Later in the pregnancy, drinking alcohol can cause poor fetal growth and brain damage that could lead to learning and behavioral issues.

How much alcohol consumption is too much during pregnancy?

There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.  Any amount of alcohol can harm the developing fetus.

It is best to stop drinking alcohol if you are trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

What if the pregnant woman is unable to stop drinking alcohol?

She can get help by contacting her doctor, her local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, and/or local alcohol and drug treatment center.

The father and/or current partner of the pregnant woman can play a big part in helping the mother remain alcohol free during her pregnancy.  He/she can support her efforts to remain alcohol free. Family, friends and other support systems can also play a positive role. 

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was originally enacted in 1974 and reauthorized in 2010 to include a policy requiring states to implement a notification process to DCF when a baby is born who has been prenatally exposed to substances.  The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) was signed into federal law in 2016, with the aim to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States and offered amendments to CAPTA.

Recent changes to federal legislation around the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) have outlined new state mandates requiring data collection around the impact of substance exposed infants and development of plans of safe care nationwide. In CT, effective March 15, 2019, hospitals will be required to submit a notification to the Department of Children and Families at the time of the birth event when an infant is believed to have been substance exposed and/or displays withdrawal symptoms.

For additional information:

                DCF Newborn Notification Portal (https://portal.ct.gov/DCF/CAPTA/HOME )

                DMHAS CAPTA/Plan of Safe Care (https://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?q=607226 )

You can find related information under Prenatal Substance Exposure and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.