No amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe, study says

January 30, 2012 1:35 PM by

After alcohol was discovered to have an adverse impact on fetuses in the 1970s, expectant mothers across the U.S. withheld from drinking until they delivered. However, in recent years, some studies have emerged claiming that consuming alcohol in moderation won't hurt an unborn child – in fact, a few researchers went so far as to say that it could even be helpful.

However, a recent study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research urges that pregnant moms shouldn't indulge in any libations, no matter how small the glass.

"We found that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy," lead author Haruna Sawada Feldman, a postdoctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, told The Wall Street Journal.

Many people have been skeptical of this claim, and friends and family may even encourage a mom-to-be to have a glass every now and then under the assumption that it won't hurt the baby. Furthermore, the media has often covered the high rates of expectant moms in Europe who drink.

In 2009, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that 55 percent of British women, 52 percent of French women and 66 percent of Irish women admitted to drinking while pregnant (for comparison, only 12 percent of American women made this claim). Nonetheless, some experts have reported that a larger number of Europeans are adopting an alcohol abstinence approach that is similar to the one the U.S. has been promoting for decades.

So what does this all mean? This newest study found that some women who only drank once a week had babies with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), while some who drank more frequently had children with no defects. The researchers concluded that the key difference may be genetic as opposed to the level of exposure. And since we cannot tell if a baby is predisposed to being able to tolerate alcohol, study authors maintain that it may be safer to avoid it altogether.

If you have any questions on what this new study means for you, ask your OB/GYN.

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