Drinking While Pregnant?!
Is it time to throw out all of our old understandings of drinking alcohol while pregnant? In 1981, the Surgeon General warned that drinking while pregnant may lead to birth defects under the name Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then, most women have put themselves on a nine-month hiatus from alcohol when they have a bun in the oven. However, a new study by researchers in Denmark has revealed that light to moderate drinking may not be harmful to the unborn child. In studying over 1,600 pregnancies, the researchers discovered that drinking moderately (defined as 8 drinks per week) had no ill-effects on the babies’ overall health.
However, experts in the United States have warned against pregnant women taking these results as an excuse to restart their old drinking habits. An article in Glamour magazine pointed out that, in Denmark, the standard glass of wine is around two ounces smaller than in the US. They also state that larger-scale studies should be conducted before pregnant women stock up on the Pinot Grigio and Miller Lite.
Similarly, in 2010, researchers in England conducted a study of over 11,000 five-year-olds and discovered that those who drank one to two units of alcohol per week during pregnancy did not harm their children. However, the children of women who drank heavily while pregnant exhibited more behavioral and emotional problems, so the idea was not completely debunked. Amazingly, researchers found that the children born to moderate drinkers appeared slightly less likely to suffer behavioral problems, and scored higher on cognitive tests, compared with women who stopped drinking completely during pregnancy, according to BBC News.
TIME magazine also points out that, although women shouldn’t necessarily feel guilty about the occasion sip, fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the largest causes of cognitive defects in newborns. The bottom line is that pregnant women should always monitor what goes into their body during those important nine months.