Study Suggests Light Drinking During Pregnancy Not Linked To Development Problems

A study, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, contradicts what we’ve been told for years about the no-no’s of drinking while pregnant.

UK researchers claim, based on their immediate findings, imbibing a unit of alcohol –– a “unit” being the equivalent of 10 milliliters or .34 ounces of pure alcohol –– is acceptable a couple of times per week and should not pose an adverse threat to the health of a growing fetus.

This per unit measure permits no more than half a single standard glass of wine (175ml) not exceeding an alcohol-by-volume (ABV) of 12 percent.

The study analyzed both mothers who were considered light drinkers during their pregnancies and those who abstained entirely.

Groups were composed of sample mothers who never drank (12.7 percent), who did drink, but not during pregnancy (57 percent), light drinkers (23.1 percent), and those who drank during their pregnancy (7.2 percent).

University College London researchers tracked 10,534 seven-year-old children through interviews and parent/teacher questionnaires used to identify social and emotional behavior.

Cognitive skills, performance in math and reading, and spatial understanding were also tested.

The study collated data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a national study of infants born in the UK between 2000-2002, to assess whether light drinking (up to two units of alcohol per week) during pregnancy was linked to unfavorable developmental outcomes.

The data reflected surprising results, noting children born under light drinkers displayed both favorable behavioral and cognitive scores. However, once statistical adjustments were calculated, the significant differences between the two groups were ultimately nominal. Still, their health and mental abilities were not notably impaired.

Researchers did reinforce the immaturity of the work-in-progress study, admitting effects could be seen later in life and did not endorse the use of alcohol whilst pregnant – simply studying the presence of alcohol-related ramifications on development, if any in light drinkers.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition of mental and physical defects that can develop in a fetus in association with high levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Alcohol surpasses the placental barrier and can stunt fetal growth and weight, harm neurons and permanently damage the central nervous system, cause malformation of the brain – resulting in both psychological and physiological problems.

Prenatal exposure to alcohol has been shown to cause an array of cognitive and functional disabilities. Alcohol exposure presents a risk of fetal brain damage at any point during a pregnancy, since brain development is ongoing throughout pregnancy and is considered one of the leading causes of developmental brain damage.

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