Not only is moderate drinking during pregnancy okay, it actually may contribute to more well adjusted children. A new study shows expectant mothers who drink moderately have children with better mental health than children of those who totally abstain – but the study’s co-author is still recommending pregnant women don’t drink at all.
From Today Moms:
“I really think we should recommend abstaining [from drinking] during pregnancy,” says study co-author Janni Niclasen, a post-doctoral student at the University of Copenhagen. “I really believe that even a glass of wine now and again is really damaging.”
Really? Here’s what I think: The American Academy of Pediatrics and doctors in general can’t trust that women will take their advice right. Some may hear “drinking is okay” and drink way more than they should. It’s like the difference between having a handful of M&Ms, and having the whole bag. Some people can’t just have a handful, and if they hear “M&Ms are okay,” they use it as an excuse to eat the whole bag. These people ruin it for the rest of us.
Niclasen analyzed data from the Danish National Birth Cohort, which surveyed 37,000 women between 1996 to 2002. She found that pregnant women who drank moderately – roughly two drinks a week – had children with better mental health than those who abstained completely:
“The abstainers did the poorest in all outcomes. They were the poorest educated, smoked the most, did not exercise, and watched a lot of TV,” she says.
The moms who drank moderately did everything else right, in general; they exercised regularly, ate better, did not watch a lot of TV, had healthy BMIs, and were better educated. While these lifestyle factors have a huge impact on mental health, Niclasen found that when she controlled for them, mom’s alcohol consumption still had small influence on the children’s mental health.
There are so many factors that influence outcomes like these – so obviously the take away from a study like this isn’t “drinking is good for your baby.” I just like to see studies like this, that prove women are capable of living somewhat normal lives while pregnant and that they don’t have to exist in a bubble of restraint and deprivation for nine months.
(photo: Getty Images)