Mercy’s Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Discusses Research Indicating Alcohol Consumption Prior to Conception May Increase Birth Defect Risk

July 28, 2014
Mercy Bunting Center

Eating well is important for a healthy pregnancy, but experts said the same advice holds true even before women become pregnant, especially when it comes to drinking alcohol.

Mechele Lerczak is having twins in a few short months, but she started thinking about her babies' health even before conception and thought twice about a night out on the town.

"It's always in the back of your mind as you are thinking about getting pregnant and you go out for those evenings of drinking. So, I definitely refrained and didn't go out as much as I used to," Lerczak said.

According to recent research, alcohol use one month prior to conception increased the risk for gastroschisis, a birth defect of the baby's abdominal wall.

Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mercy, has questions about the study but said if you're trying to get pregnant, it's best not to imbibe.

"Really be careful about how much alcohol you're consuming around the time of conception," he said.

The underlying message for women looking to conceive is to take care of themselves.

"We're putting a lot of emphasis on interception care. So, when you're not pregnant, exercising, losing weight, healthy diet and exercise -- all of these things are incredibly important prior to conception," Dr. Atlas said.

That's the advice Lerczak followed, and now she's looking forward to two healthy additions to her family.

View Mercy’s Dr. Robert Atlas’ interview regarding alcohol and pregnancy.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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