Medicine

Is light drinking while pregnant OK?

Is light drinking while pregnant OK?

Excessive drinking is of course known to be quite harmful to an unborn baby, but the researchers noted that there are very few reliable studies that have been conducted on the effects of light drinking - defined as imbibing two small drinks per week.

Pregnant women have always been advised to avoid drinking, as they might put their baby in danger.

Official NHS guidance from the Chief Medical Officers for the United Kingdom published previous year says pregnant women should not drink because "experts are still unsure exactly how much - if any - alcohol is completely safe for you to have while you're pregnant".

The study carried out a systematic review of 5,000 studies and selected 26 which looked at the impact of light drinking of two units up to twice a week, or four units a week, equivalent to a total of around 32 g compared with no alcohol at all.

The researchers even found that children born to mothers who drank light amounts of alcohol during pregnancy had better outcomes than those born to mothers who completely abstained.

"There is a continual attempt, especially in Europe, to show that it is okay to drink quote unquote amounts of alcohol during pregnancy", said Grunebaum. In 2016, a CDCP report stated fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) characterized by lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol while pregnant.

The review, in BMJ Open, also notes it appeared to increase the risk of having a premature birth. Research on the potential risks of light drinking during pregnancy is really scarce.

The evidence proving light drinking was risky was "surprisingly limited", they concluded.

Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, many women drink before the test shows positive.

In seven of those studies, light drinking was associated with at least eight percent increased risk of having a small baby or a premature birth.

'As the evidence is uncertain, the lowest risk approach is to avoid alcohol'. "It is most likely low on the basis of the information we now have, but you can't be promised that and you don't know that".

"Formulating guidance on the basis of the current evidence is challenging", the researchers mused, which is a delicate way of saying "It's impossible to say one way or another".

Prof. David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said: "A precautionary approach is still reasonable, but with luck this should dispel any guilt and anxiety felt by women who have an occasional glass of wine while they are pregnant".

Dr. Janet Williams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health San Antonio, who served as one of the lead authors on a 2015 American academy of pediatrics advising no alcohol during pregnancy. "However, the findings should also caution us not to create a situation where mothers-to-be are made more anxious, or subject to unnecessary moral judgement, on the issue of very light alcohol consumption".


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