Alcohol and Pregnancy: Is it Okay to Drink While Pregnant?

Don't Drink While Pregnant Sign

Photo Credit: Jen Crothers

Drinking while pregnant has been a controversial issue as far back as we can remember. While many health experts say that a pregnant or nursing mothers should abstain from alcohol and drugs, there are various beliefs. Some say that drinking a daily glass of red wine during pregnancy is fine while other say no to even the tiniest drop. We’ll try and shed some light on the basic data available and help everyone come to their own conclusions as to what is right and wrong regarding alcohol and pregnancy.

To gain better insight, a group of Danish researchers examined more than 1,600 Danish women and their children. They compared children born to nondrinkers to those whose mothers could be categorized as light drinkers (1-4 drinks a week), moderate drinkers (5-8 drinks a week), or heavy drinkers (9 or more drinks per week). It’s important to note, however, that an alcoholic drink in Denmark is defined as 0.4 ounces of pure alcohol compared to 0.6 in the U.S.A.

These scientists controlled for outside factors, such as smoking and the mother’s intelligence, and found that light or moderate drinking while pregnant did not have any noticeable impact on their offspring’s overall IQ, attention span, or self-control. However, the children of heavy drinkers did have considerably shorter attention spans compared to their peers.

Dr. Jacquelyn Betrand, representative for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and co-author of three studies, is quoted as saying: “This study doesn’t change our recommendation. We have a long history that alcohol causes birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy is just not worth the risk.”

There are many pregnant women who will not take any kind of medication while pregnant, and there are those who will not even drink caffeine, or sugary drinks, while they’re expecting. It is better to be safe, than sorry, is the old adage, and it seems to apply to this situation.

Pregnant Woman Illustration Silhouette

Photo Credit: Jerome Ware

Most people would probably agree that drinking a bottle of vodka a day during pregnancy is a huge no-no. What about one glass of wine with dinner? Most women, whether they have been pregnant or not, feel very strongly one way or the other, on this topic: Is it Okay to Drink While Pregnant?

Some experts say that there is no amount of alcohol that is guaranteed safe during a pregnancy. Every pregnancy and every baby is different. It is possible that even minute, trace amounts of alcohol in the mother’s bloodstream can affect the fetus, leading to fetal alcohol effects such as mental retardation and physical disabilities. Since these side-effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of pregnancy, these experts advise that women who are trying to conceive cut alcohol out of their diets completely.

Each person has to use their own judgement, and decide what is best for them, but drinking during pregnancy seems to be too risky.

Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think about alcohol during pregnancy!

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