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Viewpoint: Moderate Wine not Harmful for Pregnant Mothers

Posted: Wednesday, 01 May 2013 16:43

Viewpoint: Moderate Wine not Harmful for Pregnant Mothers

May 01: Much has been written about the effects of alcohol on children born to mothers consuming wine and alcohol during their pregnancy but the studies have positively indicated that there are no harmful effects on these babies at the ages of 7 and 11, says James Halliday, the best known Oz Wine Journalist and author who has been following this debate for close to 40 years, attending various seminars and medical discussions on the subject

In the wake of the massive change across society in the western world, attention has turned to alcohol, and to the easy target of pregnant women but he concurs with the view of delWine that one-two glasses a week (max of 4 glasses of 125 ml each, not consumed on consecutive evenings) is not harmful. He cites three papers published over the past five years that add significant research data to support what the overwhelming majority of moderate consumers of wine intuitively believe; delWine bases its support based on the cognition given to studies done is several countries and the national health policies in countries like Denmark. His comments are published in the Wine companion Blog

Halliday takes three studies during the last 10 years in an effort to relate consumption of alcohol on the pregnant mothers, also known as foetal alcohol syndrome. In the first paper, three academics at Oxford University’s National Prenatal Epidemiology Unit, reviewed 3543 papers published between 1970 and 2005. They researched for studies that compared a daily intake of one glass of wine by pregnant women with those who consumed no alcohol.

They screened the data for miscarriage, intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects including foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Their conclusions were, ‘This systematic review found no convincing evidence of adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure at low-moderate levels of exposure. However, weaknesses in the evidence preclude the conclusion that drinking at these levels during pregnancy is safe.’

‘More recent studies have appeared in several journals. The first is reported in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This study took data from a national study of 10,000 infants born in the UK between 2000 and 2002. The study assessed whether light drinking – defined as one to two units of alcohol or the equivalent of one 175ml glass of wine per week during pregnancy was linked to unfavourable developmental outcomes in seven-year-old children.’

‘Researchers from University College London used information on over 10,000 seven-year-olds, looking at their social and emotional behaviour as well as their cognitive performance in maths, reading and spatial skills. The sample was made up of mothers who were teetotalers, drinkers who abstained during pregnancy, light drinkers, and those who drank more during pregnancy than otherwise.

Children who were born to light-drinking mothers were found to have lower behavioural difficulty scores than those born to abstainers. The difference was insignificant except in the case of boys, the study says. Furthermore, BJOG reports, ‘children born to light drinkers were also found to have better cognitive test scores compared to children born to non-drinkers, but these differences mostly lost statistical significance, except for reading and spatial skills in boys.’

The report concludes that drinking lightly during pregnancy has no adverse affect on children up to the age of seven. Indeed, children born to light drinkers appeared to have more favourable developmental profiles than those born to abstainers. But, the paper cautions that when statistically adjusted the differences are negligible.

Another study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), using similar samples and the similar tests but on 11-year-olds, came to similar conclusions. ‘Light drinking in pregnancy does not appear to be associated with clinically important adverse effects for mental health and academic outcomes at age of 11 years,’ it said.

DelWine continues to recommend 1-4 small glasses preferably of red wine for pregnant mothers- not on consecutive nights. In case of doubt, please follow your doctor’s advice- Editor

Tags: James Halliday, foetal alcohol syndrome, FAS, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)


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