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Study: Light Drink Not Bad during Pregnancy

Posted: Wednesday, 06 October 2010 18:54

Study: Light Drink Not Bad during Pregnancy

Drinking one or two units of alcohol a week during pregnancy does not raise the risk of developmental problems in the child, the latest London study has indicated, although the official advice remains that women should abstain completely during pregnancy.

Photo By:: Subhash Arora
A study of more than 11,000 five-year-olds published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found no evidence of harm although there were more behavioural and emotional problems among the children of heavy-drinking women, according to reports.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it passes through the placenta and reaches the baby, which is less well-equipped to break it down. Researchers have strongly linked heavy drinking to an increased risk of lifelong damage. However, the evidence about the risks to lighter drinkers has been far less clear.

In fact, pregnant mothers who are able to relax a little may give their children an advantage during the first five years of life, which is how far the study tracked children.

"Heavy binge drinking has been linked for a long time with difficulties for mothers and the children born to them," said lead researcher Yvonne Kelly, an epidemiologist at University College London.

The study, which found no evidence of harm from having a couple drinks a week during pregnancy, was so well done and its findings so conclusive that it ought to become the final word in the field, said Fred Bookstein, an applied statistician who studies fetal alcohol spectrum disorders at both the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Vienna.

"This is such a good study that it should shut down this line of research," said Boostein, who plans to refer people to the paper when they ask him about drinking during pregnancy, and hopes that research dollars can now go towards finding the effects of other, more troublesome chemicals.

"It is no longer valid to argue that we don't know enough about low-dose drinking during pregnancy or that the known effects of binge drinking may penetrate to low-dose drinkers somehow," he added. "There is no detectable risk associated with light or moderate drinking during pregnancy."

The researchers tapped into a long-term study that has followed more than 18,500 children since birth between 2000 and 2002.

Final results of the study, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, agreed with previous work that children born to heavy binge drinkers do worst on developmental tests, because excessive exposure to alcohol in the womb kills nerve cells and causes brain damage.

The results don't mean that alcohol is good for a developing fetus, Bookstein said. Rather, there's something about women who decide to cut down on alcohol while pregnant that also produces favourable results in their children, even if they don't cut out alcohol completely. They may be more medically informed, for example, which might also lead them to ask their doctors for advice, take vitamins and follow health news.

For an earlier article, visit
For an unscientific but random and practical survey conducted by Subhash Arora in April 2008, visit

Subhash Arora
October 6, 2010

DelWine continues to recommend 3-4 standard glasses during the week, not more than one glass an evening and preferably not on continuous days. The pregnant mothers must not indulge in binge drinking-4 glasses in one evening during pregnancy-editor



Guy Webber Says:

This is indeed great news!

Posted @ October 13, 2010 16:45


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