Lifestyle & Belief

Moderate drinking during pregnancy deemed 'safe'


New research suggests it is ok for pregnant women to drink 1 to 8 alcoholic beverages a week.


Ian Waldie

A new study out of Denmark suggests that expectant mothers can imbibe in a drink, or eight, a week, with no harm to their baby. 

The research, published in the BJOG journal, found that low to moderate drinking during early pregnancy did not lead to lower intelligence or attention span issues in children. 

For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 1,600 women in the Danish National Birth Cohort. Researchers surveyed the women on their lifestyle choices, including the amount of alcohol they consumed during their pregnancy. They then classified the women's drinking behavior as none, low (one to four drinks per week), moderate (five to eight drinks per week) or high (nine or more drinks per week), according to US New and World Report.

The women's children were tested when they hit age 5 to asses their IQ, attention span and thinking skills. 

The study found that low to moderate drinking did not cognitively affect the children, but more than nine drinks a week resulted in lower attention span, the BBC reported. 

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However, experts are warning that this doesn't mean it's ok to belly up to the bar.

Dr. Jacquelyn Bertrand, a child psychologist and senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, told the New York Daily News that, "It's not worth the risk." 

Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, told US News and World Report that the findings can easily send the wrong message. 

"Women may underestimate and have difficulty acknowledging the frequency or quantity of alcohol consumed. Those suffering from alcoholism may attempt to rationalize that it is safe to drink moderately, something they may ultimately be unable to do," Goldman said. 

In the US, the Surgeon General strongly advises women to not drink at all during pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control also notes that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).