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Study: Some Alcohol While Pregnant May Be Safe

Raphaël Büchler

There is a laundry list of unsafe foods and beverages to consume while pregnant—chief among them is alcohol. However, a new study funded by the CDC out of Denmark has concluded to the contrary that “low to moderate average weekly alcohol consumption” had no effect on the neurodevelopment of children at the age of 5, NPR’s health blog SHOTS reports.

The study measured the IQs, attention spans and decision-making skills of more than 1,600 5-year-olds as well as the drinking habits of the mothers in early pregnancy. The mothers’ questionnaire showed a little less than half refrained from alcohol completely, the next largest group had 1-4 drinks a week, roughly 175 women had 5-8 drinks a week, and only 20 of them drank 9 or more drinks containing alcohol each week.

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Although the results of the study were technically conclusive, a number of remaining variables—other age groups, motor skill development, etc—still exist, making the results highly focused and lacking in a definitive answer to the general question.

"The danger of it is that people consider it definitive research and definitive reassurance that any alcohol use, including binge drinking, during pregnancy is innocuous," says Janet Williams, a pediatrician at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

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Williams continues on to say that the safest option for the child during pregnancy is for the mother to abstain from all alcohol. The Danish researchers agree, adding, "small quantities consumed occasionally in pregnancy do not appear to pose serious issues.”

How do you feel about this new research, and what is your opinion on drinking alcohol during pregnancy?