Responsible or educated mothers-to-be would never drink alcohol while pregnant for fear of harming their unborn baby. The biggest problem is, research results about drinking while pregnant has never been clear. However, there are currently new studies that that may give definitive answers.
Two new studies from Denmark and the U.K. could further confuse the issue. After researching children for an average of six years, researchers discovered no developmental troubles that typically correlate with women who consumed six or less drinks over the course of a week.
However, binge drinking while pregnant is still considered a poor choice. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which the unborn are exposed to enormous amounts of alcohol, can stunt growth and is also known to propagate mental retardation. While FAS is linked with excessive drinking during pregnancy, there’s less information about using lesser amounts of alcohol. This data is difficult to find because you can’t randomly assign expectant mothers to consume different amounts and then see the way their children turn out.
However, this new study is starting to come to light. It’s not saying that light drinking while pregnant is definitively safe, and it’s certainly not approval of drinking as a habit. Authors from some of the most recent research stated that their conclusions could be from other causes. For instance, the authors propose that it’s likely that differences in socioeconomic status (SES) among groups of mothers could play a part. Women who binge drink while pregnant are normally low SES. Low SES females are more apt to have unstable pregnancies, unhealthier infants and less prenatal care than their higher SES peers. This is only one reason it’s difficult to provide definitive information and solid advice for other potential mothers.
U.S. Policies vs. U.K. Policies
The official stance in the U.S. is clear: Women who are either pregnant or are trying to conceive shouldn’t drink any alcohol whatsoever. The only way to stop fetal alcohol syndrome is to not consume alcohol while pregnant. The stance provided by the National Health Service in the U.K. is less strict. To decrease risk to the fetus, we recommend women shouldn’t drink more than a couple units a few times a week and should never become intoxicated.
The Information Age
In the age of information, with Millennials searching Google for all questions big or small, what kind of messages should be available regarding the safety of consuming alcohol while pregnant? We could head towards evidence based advocacy, and inform women that avoiding drinking is best; but a couple drinks within a week probably won’t harm their baby. However, there might be some concern that this would affect the current attitude regarding alcohol while pregnant; there are still signs that drinking daily can be harmful to the fetus.
Would women use lessened protocols as a reason to drink irresponsibly? There are distinct aspects that research like this can’t justify; everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, so consumption levels that are considered safe will vary.
- Signing with a Heavy Hand and Heart, Love Mommy: A Journey Through Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by Sondra Torres (literarycreature.wordpress.com)
- New book claims sushi, wine okay for pregnant women (cbsnews.com)