Tragedy befell a family recently when a newborn baby died after his grandfather fed him a sip of alcohol, on his first month celebration. The incident shows the dangers of giving alcohol to a baby, even in tiny amounts.
Giving alcohol to a baby ends in tragedy
According to an article on Sin Chew Daily on 12 July 2019, the incident happened in Beijing, China. Many friends and relatives had turned up at the baby’s full month celebration, which is traditionally held to bless the child and celebrate the arrival of a new member of the family.
The child’s paternal grandfather was apparently carrying him when he proposed a toast to his relatives. Things took a rather weird turn when one of the relatives joked that the grandfather couldn’t drink if the baby didn’t drink.
The grandfather fell for the taunt, he grabbed a cup of alcohol and gave the baby a sip, to “save his face”.
When the child’s mother got to know what had happened, she was furious. She grabbed her baby back into her arms. But the damage had been done. The baby became breathless after just 30 minutes.
He was rushed to hospital, but hospital staff were unable to save the little one.
“Babies can’t drink alcohol, how can you treat a child’s life as a joke?”
Doctors found out that, the cause of the child’s death was alcohol-poisoning. “Babies cannot drink alcohol, how can you treat a child’s life as if it’s a joke?” they asked the grandfather.
It has been reported that the baby’s heartbroken mum was unable to believe what had happened, and she slapped her father-in-law multiple times.
Apparently, the mum had been ill-treated by her in-laws previously, because she was unable to conceive even after 3 years of marriage. Things got better only after she was blessed with a baby boy.
Fate though, had other plans.
Dangers of giving alcohol to a baby
According to a report by Dr. Taylor McCormick (Department of Emergency Medicine, Los Angeles County & University of Southern California Medical Center), babies appear to metabolise alcohol faster than adults.
Alcohol affects the central nervous system. Children’s bodies absorb alcohol quickly. This can occur in less than 30 minutes. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in babies can include difficulty breathing, reduced activity, and seizures. Some studies have also found a risk for low blood sugar.
The long-term effects on the baby are unclear. However, breathing difficulties could deprive the baby’s brain of oxygen, possibly causing brain damage.
In case of breastfeeding mothers, the CDC recommends that not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant. However, the mother should wait for at least 2 hours after a single drink before breastfeeding her baby. Breast milk will contain alcohol as long as alcohol is still in the mother’s bloodstream.
Alcohol levels are usually highest in breast milk 30-60 minutes after alcohol is consumed. The length of time alcohol can be detected in breast milk will increase the more alcohol a mother consumes. For example, alcohol from 1 drink can be detected in breast milk for about 2-3 hours, alcohol from 2 drinks can be detected for about 4-5 hours, and alcohol from 3 drinks can be detected for about 6-8 hours, and so on.
Exposure to alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk can damage an infant’s development, growth, and sleep patterns. High alcohol consumption can also impair a mother’s judgment and ability to safely care for her child. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to decreased milk production.