• Wed, Jun 20 2012

A Few Drinks While Pregnant Won’t Harm Baby, Study Says – But Would You Take The Risk?

drinkingpregnantTo drink or not to drink, that is the question. Actually, it’s not really such a major question since most women I know refrain from alcohol altogether while pregnant. Sure, there are those who will enjoy an ice cold beer during their final weeks. Or those who’ll nurse a quarter glass of wine on the odd occasion. But the general consensus is avoid at all costs. My own OB/GYN, an extremely competent yet laid back woman, was lax about caffeine, aspartame, even unpasteurized cheese – but alcohol was a definite no-no. Now a new study claims otherwise.

Danish researchers insist that low (one to five drinks per week) to moderate (five to eight drinks per week) alcohol consumption while pregnant will not harm your baby. They studied 5-year-old children – both those whose mothers had consumed up to eight alcoholic drinks per week while pregs and those who didn’t drink a drop. Turns out the former group did not have a higher risk of attention or IQ deficits than the latter group. (Nine or more drinks per week, however, led to an increased risk of attention problems.)

Of course, for every study like this one you’ll find dozens of others stating just the opposite (including other risks associated with drinking while pregnant, such as miscarriage). And this study in particular only looked at the effects on 5-year-olds vs. newborns or older children. Still, it’s some pretty surprising stuff. “Our findings show that low to moderate drinking is not associated with adverse effects on the children aged five,” said lead authors Schiøler Kesmodel of Aarhus University and Prof Erik Lykke Mortensen of the University of Copenhagen.

Most women, however, will still err on the side of caution. The truth is, I can’t imagine anyone using this one study as justification for having up to eight drinks per week. That said, many moms in North America do look towards Europeans; in France and Italy, for example, it’s not uncommon to seem a pregnant woman enjoying a glass of wine with dinner (guilt-free).

What do you think? To all those pregnant women out there, will these new findings influence your drinking pattern at all? And for all moms reading, did you indulge every now and then while pregs? Take our poll and weigh in below.

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

(Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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  • Shelly G

    My OB told me “we can’t say any amount of alcohol is safe, but if you’re craving beer, have a beer. Just keep it moderate.” I had a beer a week during my last trimester with both my kids – my almost six year old hit all of his developmental milestones early, even started school early, and he was one of the most mellow babies you’ve ever seen. My daughter is two months, and resembles her brother in hitting milestones early and being mellow.

    I know there’s about a million people judging me right now and thinking I got lucky, I shouldn’t have done it. I want them to know that I was brutally honest with my OB (and all the other OBs in the office where I work), none of them was even remotely worried. I’ve worked in the medical field for ten years, spent two years in a NICU and the rest in an OB office. I am also well aware that I can have one drink without needing more. I drank less than a tenth of what is considered a risk factor for FAS. It’s fine if you don’t want to risk it, but don’t judge others too harshly for having a single beer or glass of wine with dinner.

    On a related note, I got most of the really nasty looks and comments for drinking draft rootbeer, as it slightly resembles beer. Slightly. Definitely was fun to point out that their judgements were especially unfounded, as I was consuming something that was not only non-alcoholic, but caffeine-free as well.

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  • Janna

    My midwife encouraged a glass of red wine a week once I hit 24 weeks. I just didn’t get the chance to before I was on hospital bed rest with the twins.

  • Eileen

    I wouldn’t do it “because Europeans do it,” but I’d still probably have an occasional glass of wine. (Probably not anything else, though – I tend to think, rightly or wrongly, of wine as the healthiest alcoholic beverage because it’s made from fruit, and I’d want to make at least an effort to be healthy) My mom had a little while she was pregnant, and none of her kids had birth defects.

    • Sophia

      “because Europeans do it”? I know that this article is one moth old and probably nobody will read this but I am European and I know exactly nobody who would drink during pregnancy! Maybe a glass of wine/beer won’t harm the baby but I wouldn’t drink it nonetheless.
      I have no problem with drinking outside of pregnancy, I just wanted to make clear that “we Europeans” are no heavy drinkers who care about actually nothing…

  • Katia

    I drank at the beginning of all pregnancies (this happens with most unplanned pregnancies) In my third I had alcohol with food a few
    Times. I drink a bit breast feeding too however I’m a very light drinker.

  • neo

    I had about 3-4 glasses of wine total during my pregnancy. My husband was waaaay more freaked out about it then I was. I probably would have had a glass or two more if he let me. Our baby girl is absolutely amazing, curious, bright and alert.

  • Laura

    I think that most doctors (if they are being really honest) don’t think that a single glass of wine or beer is going to do any harm but they don’t all tell people that because they know that some people would use that as justification to have more. “If I can have one then two can’t be all that bad…” and so on.

  • Sarah

    “Of course, for every study like this one you’ll find dozens of others stating just the opposite.” Dozens, eh? Dozens of studies showing that small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy will harm your baby? Thanks for backing that one up with, oh, anything.

  • Leslie

    This article is more than a bit sensationalist, considering that there are MULTIPLE studies backing up the results of this one. Both my OB and my midwife told me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine. Only in America are we so paranoid about this issue. I am quite sure that I am putting my unborn child at greater risk every time I get into a vehicle or onto my bike than if I were to drink a glass of wine now and then. Why no judgment for that? Why no judgment for women who use pregnancy as an excuse to gain a ton of weight and eat nothing but junk food? That’s definitely not doing your fetus any favors.

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  • Kj

    Well, my Mom got good and drunk when she was pregnant with me, before she knew she was pregnant, abstained for baby #2, and drank a little more with each kid until she was like, screw it, for baby #5 and got pretty tipsy more than once. Incidentally, baby #5 and I are probably the smartest. And drunkiest. But of course that’s anecdotal.

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