Study: Some Alcohol Consumption is Okay During Early Pregnancy

Abstaining from alcohol is something that many women are told to do during their pregnancy. As your baby is developing, everything that a mom eats or drinks affects it. If you drink alcohol, your baby is drinking alcohol too.

However, a study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that low to moderate drinking during early pregnancy has no negative effects on children by the age of 5. The researchers observed the effects of 1,628 women who either participated in low, moderate, high and binge drinking during pregnancy.Their children were assessed by their IQ, attention span and ability to plan, organize and sustain self-control.

It was concluded that there were no significant effects on the neurodevelopment of these children if fewer than nine drinks were consumed per week during early pregnancy, and the results suggest that women may safely consume small amounts of alcohol with the permission of a physician.

There is Always a Risk with Alcohol

Despite findings, women should proceed with caution. Alcohol, when absorbed into the bloodstream, can affect the central nervous system (CNS) in adverse ways. Since it is a depressant, it slows the CNS and blocks messages trying to get the brain, altering emotions, perceptions, movement and physical senses.

"These findings can easily send a very dangerous message to pregnant women," Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, told US News. He also pointed out that the U.S. surgeon general advises against drinking during pregnancy to avoid fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Increased alcohol consumption may result in babies being diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, in which they are born small, have problems eating, sleeping, seeing, hearing, are slow to learn and or have behavioral issues, according to the National Institute of Health, which recommends no alcohol intake during pregnancy. Affected babies can present symptoms their whole life and may not be able to take care of themselves as they age. 

Jennifer Wu, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, also recommends that women should be wary of alcohol consumption and that the study may not have picked up on smaller abnormal neurological and behavioral effects.

What are your thoughts on alcohol consumption during pregnancy? Do you have any person experiences to share? Leave your answers in the comments section!


MissyJ's picture

Submitted by MissyJ on

I would like to know whether this study took into account the varying weights and/or metabolism of the women... and whether those variables would play a significant role in the potentially dangerous impact on a developing baby in the womb.

While I believe that there *may* be a safe (low) level of alcohol consumption, trying to accurately pinpoint that for any given woman where every single day (and hour) may present different developmental risk levels for the baby seems impossible... and simply weren't worth it to me.

I don't believe that women who have drank prior to learning that they have become pregnant should beat themselves up... nor those that have an occasional glass of wine. Outside of that, however, "safe moderate use" seems extremely difficult to define.