Alcohol & Smoking


"Of all the substances of abuse (including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana) alcohol produces, by far, the most serious neurobehavioral effects on the fetus."

-Institute of Medicine, 1996

Click the link to view an important public service announcement regarding FASD. 


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASDs are 100% preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy?

NO! Even one alcoholic beverage during pregnancy could harm your baby.  There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant, no safe time during pregnancy to drink, and no safe kind of alcohol. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause FAS, which is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in the United States. The only way to prevent FAS is to not drink any amount of alcohol while you are pregnant.  For more information on FAS visit the CDC website at

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (Centers for Disease Control)

How can alcohol hurt my baby?

Drinking alcohol while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby by causing brain damage, heart, kidney, liver, vision and hearing problems, slow growth, and birth defects such as deformed or stunted bones. In fact, those affected by FASD often have problems at school and work, and with personal relationships. 

Facial characteristics that are associated
with fetal alcohol exposure



What can I do to protect my baby from FASD?

Each year in the U.S., as many as 40,000 babies are born with FASD.  The cost of caring for one child with FASD is $1.4 million over the child's lifetime, and while there is no cure for FASD, it is 100% preventable if you don’t drink alcohol while you are pregnant.  If you are pregnant and drinking alcohol, you can still help your unborn baby if you stop drinking now. The more alcohol you drink while you are pregnant, the more likely your baby is to be born with FASD.

If you need help to stop drinking, talk to your health care provider. To find a substance abuse treatment facility in your area, visit our Resource Directory or call our MothersCare Line at (808) 951-6660 or (888) 951-6661.


For more information on FASD contact the Hawaii Department of Health, Family Health Services Division at (808) 733-9018 or e-mail



Is it safe to smoke tobacco while pregnant?

NO. Smoking during pregnancy is harmful to both you and your baby. If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. These chemicals will decrease the amount of oxygen your baby gets, and will interfere with your baby’s growth and development. If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to be born with birth defects such as cleft lip or palate and be born prematurely and with a low birth weight (increasing your baby’s risk for other serious health problems including lifelong disabilities and in some cases death).

Alcohol and Drugs- Smoking During Pregnancy (March of Dimes)

Tips on how to quit:

  • Write down your reasons for quitting. Look at the list when you are tempted to smoke.
  • Choose a "quit day." On that day, throw away all your cigarettes or cigars, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Use a stressball to keep your hands busy or do some needlework.
  • Keep yourself occupied. Try going for a walk or doing chores to keep your mind off of cravings.
  • Snack on some raw veggies or chew some sugarless gum to ease the need to have something in your mouth.
  • Stay away from places, activities or people that make you feel like smoking.
  • Ask your partner or a friend to help you quit. Call that person when you feel like smoking.
  • Aids such as patches, gum, nasal spray and medications can help supress the urge to smoke.
  • Don't get discouraged if you don't quit completely right away. Keep trying. If you can't quit, cut back as much as you can.
  • Ask your employer to see what services are offered or covered by insurance.
  • Learn about smoking cessation programs in your community or from your employer. You can get more information from you health care provider, hospital or health department.

For more information (1-800-Quit-Now)
National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Addiction Center (1-877-655-5116)
Recovery Worldwide LLC


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