Pregnant? Half A Glass Of Wine Really Could Damage Your Baby, Experts Conclude

Dawn Papple

Pregnant women are routinely told that drinking a glass of wine a couple of times a week is perfectly safe for their developing child, but is this accurate? New research indicates that the safe level of alcohol (which includes wine) is zero.

According to a new study, even a half a glass of wine might not be safe for the developing fetuses of pregnant women. Professor Peter Hepper from Queen's University Belfast said that he examined the scans of women taken when they were 18 weeks into their pregnancies. Women who drank only an average of a 200ml glass of wine a week had scans that showed fetuses that stopped moving for up to two hours and even stopped "breathing."

Hepper, who previously was honored for "Outstanding Contributions to Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health" by the American Association of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology & Health, was especially concerned with the strange fetal activity after drinking the equivalent of a glass of wine each week. After this period of inactivity, the fetuses would suddenly turn themselves over in a jolt. Hepper says this is not normal.

"If women drink just one unit of alcohol, the baby's breathing and movement stop for up to two hours after that. That's not normal – the baby should be continually active."

This might seem like an overstatement of the effects of alcohol on a developing fetus, but many women are unaware of the risks, according to the new study. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder encompasses a range of various physical and cognitive impairments, and the condition lasts its victims' entire lives. In the United States, women are officially told that they should avoid drinking alcohol altogether while pregnant, but in real-life applications, women are, according to their own accounts, routinely told by their OB/GYNs that a glass of wine is perfectly safe once in awhile.

Just last year, economist and author Emily Oster made waves by suggesting that it is statistically safe for a fetus if the pregnant woman drinks in moderation. Oster even fought back against the public outrage that came from some medical professionals and families of children that had been harmed by maternal drinking during pregnancy with an article entitled, "I Wrote That It's OK to Drink While Pregnant. Everyone Freaked Out. Here's Why I'm Right," featured on Slate. In Oster's book, she examined data pertaining to women drinking small amounts of wine or other forms of alcohol while pregnant. Studies noted that small amounts didn't show damage to IQ or balance.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder community leaders replied that those studies that Oster analyzed didn't examine some of the less discussed challenging aspects of living with FASD, like difficulties with impulse control, lying/confabulation, and emotional regulation. Earlier, Inquisitr covered in detail a recent study that found many more children are likely harmed after their mothers drink wine or small amounts of other types of alcohol while pregnant than previously believed. In that article, flaws that experts have pointed out about earlier studies (which supported light to moderate wine drinking by pregnant women) were examined.