Women are always being told not to drink when they are pregnant and particularly in Australia there has been somewhat of a drive to educate women about the danger alcohol can pose to a developing foetus.
That is why it seems strange that a British researcher now claims that there is no evidence to support abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy.
According to an article on Irishtimes.com research published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Open online publication moderate drinking by pregnant women does not harm the development of unborn babies. This was deduced from research which evaluated around 7000 children up to the age 10. Moderate drinking for pregnant women is defined as no more than 3 to 7 glasses of alcohol a week.
The article on Irishtimes.com goes on to explain:
The children were drawn from a 14,000-strong group born in or around Bristol between 1992 and 1993, who have been examined frequently since birth as part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
The majority of their mothers – 70 per cent — followed regular medical advice and had drunk no alcohol during pregnancy. The remaining women drank between one and two glasses a week for some and three to seven for others. A glass is defined as a British pub measure of spirits, half a pint of lager or cider, or a standard wine glass of wine.
The ability was tested of 7,000 10-year-olds to walk on a beam and stand on one leg, with eyes open and closed.
Curiously, the women who had drunk during and after their pregnancies had the best performing children.
Low to moderate alcohol consumption did not seem to interfere with a child’s ability to balance, say researchers. However, income plays a role: better static balance is linked to wealth and education.
This study is just one on the subject, there are countless previous studies which prove that alcohol consumption, particularly excessive consumption can be seriously dangerous for the unborn, growing baby, with previous researchers claiming brain development can be heavily impacted by even a few drinks. Also it is hard to say how much alcohol is acceptable or how much it takes before the foetus is negatively affected.
A recent article on News.com.au presented a very different view of pregnancy drinking. According to the article if children have memory impairment and struggle to follow instructions they may actually have an undiagnosed foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The article suggested that younger mothers in particular seem to placing their babies at risk by binge drinking during pregnancy. More education and awareness needs to be created around the situation, especially to mothers aged 18-29 and school girls as well.
The article also states that young women that binge drink are in fact producing a new generation of school children that have problems such as learning disabilities, lack of judgement and social skills, poor attention spans and impulsive behaviour, all of which can be detrimental to their education.
So with 2 conflicting opinions from 2 seemingly qualified sources it may be difficult to figure out whether or not to drink while pregnant. Some would prefer to err on the side of caution and abstain completely when they are pregnant whereas others would prefer to take a chance. If you agree with the British research and do decide that drinking during pregnancy is acceptable remember it is never acceptable to binge drink but especially not when you are pregnant. Only drink in moderation and never more than 3-7 glasses of alcohol a week.