No Level of Alcohol is Safe During Pregnancy
A new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows there is no safe level of alcohol a woman can consume during pregnancy. The study, completed by researchers at the University of California, was designed to find away to overcome obstacles in gathering accurate and reliable data where Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is concerned.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur in babies if their mother’s have consumed alcohol during pregnancy. It is a spectrum of growth, physical and mental abnormalities with some of the physical features being abnormally small eyes, thin upper lip, no grove between upper lip and nose, and small head circumference. Babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can also have deficiencies in height and weight.
Two of the main difficulties with Fetal Alcohol Research are:
• Reliability of data. Women who are concerned about social stigma and judgment are less likely to be forthcoming and honest with information about their alcohol consumption. This can skew data to show there is less consumption than there actually is.
• Symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome being apparent to health care providers. These symptoms may be difficult for someone who is not an expert on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to spot as symptoms can be subtle in appearance.
This was a longitudinal study completed between 1978 and 2005 where 992 and their babies were examined for patterns in drinking and timing of alcohol exposure related to specific Fetal Alcohol Syndrome features. The study included only live births, not miscarriages or stillbirths. Patterns of drinking are defined as number of drinks per day, maximum number of drinks and binge drinking episodes. Timing of exposure included evaluation of drinking at 0-6 weeks post conception, six to twelve weeks post conception and during each of the three trimesters.
The results of the study were as follows:
• Higher prenatal alcohol consumption in every alcohol consumption pattern was significantly linked to higher rates of babies being born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms.
• The most significant links between alcohol consumption and Fetal Alcohol Symptoms were during the second half of the first trimester. For each drink during this period of gestation there was a significant increase in the risk of each of the symptoms for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
This study shows that pregnant women should abstain from alcohol at any stage of pregnancy for the health of their baby.