Pregnancy and Alcohol

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Pregnancy and alcohol are not a welcome combination, and most doctors will recommend to pregnant women complete abstinence from any alcohol consumption. Therefore the following new findings might raise a lot of discussion and controversy.

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A new study from an international team of researchers published in the October issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that pregnant women who drink in moderation alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy and possibly beyond are not putting their babies at risk for premature birth or low birth weight, or themselves at risk for high blood pressure complications during pregnancy.

Current medical evidence supporting strict abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy is not even very strong. And several recent studies suggest that pregnant women who have an occasional drink won’t harm themselves or their baby. For example, a 2012 research study from Denmark found that low to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy did not affect executive functioning (activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, remembering details, and managing time) among 5-year-olds. Another recent study from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that children whose mothers drank moderately during pregnancy (about two drinks a week) experienced better mental health than children whose mothers completely abstained from drinking.

Since research is not yet clear how much alcohol it takes to cause any health problems, most experts still advice that women should avoid alcohol if they are pregnant or might become pregnant. However, women who were pregnant for a while before they discover their pregnancy and consumed alcohol don’t have to worry, their alcohol consumption likely didn’t harm their unborn children.

Although many respected medical societies like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists urge women to abstain from any alcohol during pregnancy, some respected health agencies, such as the United Kingdom’s Department of Health indicate that having one alcoholic beverage a couple times per week during pregnancy is okay.

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