It's OK To Drink (A Little) During Pregnancy

Light drinking in pregnancy 'unlikely' to harm babies, but experts caution lack of evidence

Light drinking in pregnancy 'unlikely' to harm babies, but experts caution lack of evidence

Before now, it was believed that it is safe for women to consume little quantities of alcohol without causing the baby any harm.

They say women should avoid all alcohol throughout pregnancy "just in case" in accordance with official guidelines. However, the study also stressed that there was very less research available on how much alcohol a pregnant woman could drink without posing a threat to her unborn baby. However, there was no overwhelming evidence of harm.

There's been little research into low to moderate alcohol use during pregnancy, specifically drinking up to one or two drinks a week.

"Regularly drinking even small amounts could be harmful and should be avoided, in line with the precautionary approach".

Official NHS guidance from the Chief Medical Officers for the United Kingdom published a year ago 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".

Overall, though, there wasn't much evidence that light drinking during pregnancy causes harm to the fetus. The research review, published Monday in BMJ Open journal, was carried out by the experts from the Medical Research Council's Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, the university's School of Social and Community Medicine, and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

Four units is equivalent to about two glasses of wine.

The researchers also cautioned that correlation does not mean causation.

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The review underlined that drinking four units of alcohol a week was associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of premature birth.

"Evidence of the effects of drinking up to 32 g/week in pregnancy is sparse".

For most of the outcomes the researchers analysed, there were only a few studies that compared light to non-drinkers. But they added: "However, describing the paucity of current research and explaining that ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence', appears warranted".

However, a new study suggests that a slight change in attitude towards pregnant women who enjoy the odd glass of wine might be in order. The question is light drinking is good or not.

They did find that, compared to abstaining, light drinking (roughly two drinks per week) may be linked with a higher risk of preterm birth and a higher risk of delivering a small baby.

"Formulating guidance on the basis of the current evidence is challenging".

So Bristol University scientists set out to determine the effects of low-to-moderate levels of drinking by women on pregnancy and the long-term health effects on their child.

The new paper was "well done" and the conclusions were "appropriate", said 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 report advising no alcohol during pregnancy.

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