Is Occasionally Drinking During Pregnancy Safe?
Experts agree binge drinking is very dangerous to a pregnancy. But are a few sips of wine or champagne at a special occasion really harmful? Many pregnant women ask this question and with limited research in the area the true answer is hard to find.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, and Centers for Disease Control have strong positions that women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or who think they might be pregnant should not drink alcohol. Their position is that no level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
One of the main concerns is that alcohol quickly passes through the placenta and umbilical cord to the baby and can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that impact head size, height, weight, speech, vision, hearing, and other thinking and developmental skills.
Unfortunately the harmful impact of alcohol can be subtle and difficult to detect. It is not clear whether there is a safe threshold, or if even small amounts of alcohol can harm some infants.
One British team reviewed over 26 studies on women who had low alcohol consumption during their pregnancy (less than 1-2 glasses of light white wine or beer per week). Due to lack of data a safe level of consumption could not be identified. Researchers found evidence of an 8% greater chance of a low birth weight baby and a 10% greater chance of a premature baby in women who drank lightly compared to those who completely avoided alcohol just before and during pregnancy.
Despite health organizations strong advise, some controversial studies have offered different evidence. One study published in 2010 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found no increased risk of behavioral or cognitive problems by age 5 in children who’s mothers consumed 1-2 alcoholic beverages per week during pregnancy.
The bottom line, until more research is conducted we do not know the risks. Many experts encourage women not to take chances; given so many other factors one can worry about, take alcohol out of the equation.