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Women & Drinking

Does alcohol affect women differently?

Yes.  When a woman drinks, the alcohol in her bloodstream typically reaches a higher level than a man’s even if both are drinking the same amount. This is because women’s bodies generally have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol is less diluted in a woman’s body than in a man’s. Women become more impaired by alcohol’s effects and are more susceptible to alcohol–related organ damage. That is, women develop damage at lower levels of consumption over a shorter period of time.


Is it safe to drink during pregnancy?

No.  Alcohol can harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy. Although the highest risk is to babies whose mothers drink heavily, it is not clear yet whether there is any completely safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.


The damage caused by prenatal alcohol includes a range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems in babies. Babies most severely affected have what is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). These babies may have abnormal facial features and severe learning disabilities. Babies can also be born with mild disabilities without the facial changes typical of FAS.


For more information on women and alcohol, see  Alcohol: An Important Women's Health Issue.




(Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website.  Most of the information available on the NIAAA website is within the public domain, and unless otherwise noted, may be freely downloaded and reproduced.)

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