A recent study published in the British Medical Journal Open shows that there is a need for more research on the effects of alcohol on pregnancy. On this we all agree. We all want healthy pregnancies and advice that maximizes the healthiest prospects for mum and child. As mother to an adopted child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, I encourage everyone to look more closely at what the study said before they start planning baby showers at the local.
Researchers in Bristol looked at 26 studies and concluded that drinking up to four units a week while pregnant, on average, was associated with an 8% higher risk of having a small baby.” (For those counting, a large glass of 13% wine is nearly 4 units, though people are inconsistent in judging and some pour 5 units in a glass – so we are talking about a glass of wine a week.) They also said there is a “potential risk linked to premature birth” and that there is “a distinct lack of evidence” on most other outcomes for the baby, including a range of other cognitive impairments and developmental issues. Even these researchers say that a lack of evidence is not proof that it is okay to drink alcohol.
There is nothing new here. But watch the headlines roar once again. The British pub culture runs deep. Nothing wrong, some will claim, with a little tipple to relax you and your bump…
Except that is not what this research says.
The fact remains there is no PROOF that it is SAFE to drink low levels of alcohol while pregnant.
The ‘new’ research simply says there’s not enough research. Charities are once again claiming therefore that the guidance against drinking alcohol in pregnancy is too rigid. They will cynically confuse the message yet again.
No one says that everyone will be affected by low levels or any level of alcohol in pregnancy. Scientists do not yet know why some are affected and some are not. But there is a risk. The more you drink the more the risk, which is why it matters greatly if a woman takes an early test and stops as soon as she knows she is pregnant. It’s also why it matters that she has the support of her partner…
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