Study Suggests Moderate Drinking During Pregnancy May Not Cause Developmental Harm to Child


by Casie Kolbinsky

A new study states that a pregnant woman may be able to consume alcohol without causing neurodevelopment damage to her baby.

The study published by BMJ Open says a woman who is pregnant can possibly drink three to seven glasses of alcohol per week without causing any neurodevelopmental damage to her unborn child, sources say.

Researchers at BMJ Open studied the self-reported drinking habits of about 7,000 mothers. They reportedly analyzed the answers of these women at both 18 weeks into the pregnancy and again when the children were 4 years old.

When questioned about their alcohol consumption during their pregnancies, close to 70 percent of the expectant mothers said they abstained from alcoholic beverages completely during their pregnancies. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of the pregnant mothers said they'd drunk moderately, according to reports.

Researchers defined a low level of drinking as one to two glasses of alcohol per week. Sources say the researchers defined moderate levels of drinking as three to seven glasses per week.

One in seven of the expectant mothers reportedly said they took part in binge drinking while pregnant, which researchers defined as at least four glasses of alcohol in one setting.

Sources say about half of the women said they drank moderate levels of alcohol by the time their children turned 4 years old.

Once the child turned 10, researchers conducted a series of tests that measured the kid's balance. This would eventually indicate if at least a moderate level of alcohol consumption negatively affected the child's neurodevelopment, according to reports.

Researchers reportedly found that  moderate levels of alcohol consumption might even lead to better overall balancing abilities in kids.

However, sources say genetic testing suggested that a mother with a 'low alcohol' gene that reduced a woman's likelihood to engage in alcohol consumption gave birth to kids whose balance tests were not any worse than those whose mother did not carry the gene.

Experts pointed out that variables such as education and wealth may have influenced the findings. The fact that the alcohol levels were self-reported might have influenced the findings, as well, they said.

"[There's] certainly no evidence that moderate alcohol use by pregnant moms is good for their kids, and [there are] reasons to be cautious about other messages around 'benefits' of moderate alcohol use by pregnant moms," John Mcleoud, a co-author of the study and the chair of clinical epidemiology and primary care at the University of Bristol's School of Social and Community Medicine reportedly said. "But equally, [there's] no strong evidence for important harmful effects."

Sources say an April study in Great Britain suggested light drinking (about one to two drinks per week) by pregnant women did not lead to an increased risk for mental defects among children by they time they turned 7 years old.


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