A Little Booze During Pregnancy May Be Safe
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To drink, or not to drink, while pregnant? That is a question that health professionals have debated for ages, with prior studies linking prenatal alcohol exposure to premature births, and lower IQ's. But new findings suggest that moderate consumption of alcohol has no long-term impact on the health of the baby. Researchers in England have analyzed data from 10,534 British seven-year-olds, whose mothers either drank lightly while pregnant, or abstained entirely. They found little difference between the two groups, suggesting that expectant mothers should be able to consume two drinks a week without risk to the fetus. "We know heavy drinking during pregnancy has a very deleterious effect, but it is very unlikely that drinking small amounts will have an impact,” says Professor Yvonne Kelly, co-author of the study. "It doesn't seem biologically plausible that small amounts of alcohol would affect development either way." Kelly adds that the environment in which children are raised is "massively more important" to their overall health. However, consuming alcohol during pregnancy remains taboo, and many pregnant women feel "conflicted" about drinking, says Linda Geddes, author of the pregnancy book Bumpology. "[Many women] think the occasional drink is OK, but they also know the absolute safest thing to do is not to drink at all as the evidence is limited and they want to do the best by their babies," says Geddes, "So this research is very reassuring for pregnant women—it is probably OK to have a glass or two." However, most health professionals still agree it's safer to abstain all together.