Posted April 24, 2013 in PREGNANCY

Is Light Drinking During Pregnancy Really Safe?

Drinking While Pregnant
Drinking While Pregnant

When you are normally an occasional light drinker it really is not hard to give up your glass of
wine while pregnant, however holidays and special occasions may be enticing. Some women
just happen to like the relaxing effect a half a glass of wine offers, while others just want to be
sociable with their husband and dinner guest.

But is this safe for baby? As we know from past research studies, heavy drinking in pregnancy
has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome disorder in children. This has caused a wide range
of physical, mental and behavioral problems in children. In fact in 2007, the Department of
Health published a report stating that pregnant women should avoid drinking any alcohol as should
women who are trying to conceive. To reduce chances and avoid miscarriage in the first three
months of pregnancy, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that women
avoid alcohol consumption.

According to a new British Study published on April 17th 2013, researchers from University College
London studied 10,534 seven year olds from mothers who drank no more than two drinks per week
during pregnancy. They claimed light drinking does not affect their child’s development nor does it cause
adverse behavior or cognitive abilities reports the study published in BJOG; an International Journal of
Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The Millennium Cohort Study focused on what happened to these
children following them to age seven. The findings were interesting; as it revealed children born to
light drinkers were slightly less likely to have behavioral problems as compared with those born to
mothers who did not drink during pregnancy. Even more intriguing, children born to light drinkers
scored slightly higher on cognitive tests than children born to nondrinkers.

Is this reassuring news for the 1 in 13 pregnant women in the U.S. who would like to consume an
occasional drink? The study claims that women can safely drink a 175ml glass of wine, a 50ml glass
of spirits or just under a pint of beer weekly without causing damaging effects. What we do know is
anything in excess cannot be good for anyone. It seems the issue is- “How much is really safe to
drink while pregnant?”
This question has remained controversial in recent years, leaving us with strong
opinions or advice:

  • BJOG’s deputy editor-in-chief, John Thorp, said: “It remains unclear as to what level of alcohol consumption may have adverse outcomes, so this should not alter current advice.”
  • Daily Mail- “If women are worried about consumption levels, the safest option would be to abstain from drinking during pregnancy.”Surgeon General advises there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption while pregnant.

“Do you think light drinking during pregnancy is really safe? Please share your thoughts with us.”

Charlotte Sanchez (CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife and
Childbirth Educator of over 20 years.