Is Moderate Drinking During Early Pregnancy Safe?
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams probably echoed the sentiments of a number of people when he opened a report discussing a Danish study on alcohol consumption and pregnancy by saying, “Well, this is one of those studies where the results should be quickly followed by someone saying ‘This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to try this.’”
A study conducted by researchers from Denmark found that low or moderate consumption of alcohol – defined as one to eight drinks per week – during the early stages of pregnancy may not harm the woman’s unborn child, or affect the baby’s neurological development or attention span later in life.
The study analyzed data provided by more than 1,600 study participants, consisting of pregnant women recruited at their first antenatal visit. Half of the study participants were having their first pregnancy, while just under one-third admitted to smoking while pregnant. There were also participants who did not drink during pregnancy.
The pregnant women were asked about their alcohol intake, defined as “low average” if consumption was at one to four drinks (at 12g per serving) per week; “moderate” if consumption was at five to eight drinks per week; and “high” if consumption was at nine or more drinks per week.
The researchers then looked into the effects of alcohol on IQ, attention span, executive functions (planning, organization, self-control, among others) in the children at five years of age. Lead study authors Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel of Aarhus University and Prof Erik Lykke Mortensen of the University of Copenhagen shared: “Our findings show that low to moderate drinking is not associated with adverse effects on the children aged five.”
Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and a consultant obstetrician described the research as “very well designed,” although he did say: “These findings suggest low to moderate drinking has no significant effect on children aged five. However, this does not mean that women can use this as an excuse to indulge in more than the recommended amount.”Tags: alcohol abuse during pregnancy, drinking alcohol during pregnancy, early pregnancy drinking, early pregnancy smoking