Drinking during Pregnancy? Do we Know how Little is too Much?

Analyzing effects of drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

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AR0PXC Pregnant Woman Holding a Glass of Wine
Researchers found that few good studies had been done on light drinking, which they defined as no more than two small drinks or four units per week. Photo: ALAMY

According to a new research by the University of Bristol, moderate drinking during pregnancy associated with higher chances of having a premature or small baby.

There are rare studies that discover moderate drinking during pregnancy. Gathering data from selected high-quality studies, scientists were able to determine effects of drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

Small amounts were defined as 1 to 2 UK units, once or twice a week. These 2 units mean one pint of strong beer or a medium size glass (175ml) of light white wine. Scientists observed the effects on a range of health outcomes. It mainly involves cases such as miscarriage, still birth, size at birth, and long-term developmental delays, behavioral and cognitive deficits.

Scientists found that 8% the women were more likely to deliver a small baby with estimates ranging between a two per cent and a 14 per cent increase. The evidence that light drinking affected delivering prematurely was weaker and there was insufficient evidence on other health outcomes.

The report suggests women not to drink any alcohol when pregnant or trying to conceive.

Research led Dr. Luisa Zuccolo said, “Formulating advice on the basis of the current evidence is challenging because we are still building the full picture of what happens to the unborn baby when small amounts of alcohol reach the bloodstream or brain. We wanted to give women the most up-to-date and reliable evidence in order to empower them to make an informed decision about drinking during pregnancy and balancing any possible risk with other factors in their lives.”

It is clear that drinking moderate alcohol during pregnancy associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It also increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and the baby having a low birth weight.

Scientists also affirmed that the effects they have found are small. They think there is still some uncertainty like how moderate drinking during pregnancy affects baby’s health.

Women can use this new information to inform their choices, and if they want to avoid any risk from alcohol drinking during pregnancy or when trying to conceive they should avoid all alcohol as a precaution.

REFERENCEUniversity of Bristol
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