When you ask a pregnant woman in the doctor’s surgery whether she consumes alcohol, only around 3 % to 4 % say yes. However, analysis of the metabolites of alcohol in the skin reveals that many more have drunk alcohol during the nine months of gestation. At the Foetal Medicine Unit at Hospital Clínic and Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona we are conducting a pilot study with a small sample of pregnant women, and find that 40 % had consumed alcohol.
The idea that it is okay to drink small amounts of alcohol, like the occasional beer, has become engrained in society. But such intake, albeit reduced, has repercussions for the result of the pregnancy and the health of the foetus. What is more, we now know that foetal life also determines health during the rest of the baby’s life. This is called foetal programming.
For this reason, BCNatal will launch a pioneering study to address environmental factors that may affect the health of the foetus, such as tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and stress. Getting pregnant women to care about and improve some aspects of their lifestyle is a powerful tool to positively influence their babies’ health.