I have a friend that drinks a few glasses of wine a week while pregnant. She says it's okay. Is that true?

It might be ok but no one

It might be ok but no one really knows what a safe level of fetal alcohol exposure is. Because of that, some people choose to limit exposure to zero (or as close as can be - you pretty much can't eat fruit or various other kinds of food without ingesting some ethanol, and fruit is good in pregnancy as in other times).

It is known that exposure earlier in the pregnancy is more likely to lead to FAS, and it's believed that higher blood alcohol levels are worse, so one glass of wine three days a week is probably less risky than three glasses one day per week. The studies that have been done do seem to support that one drink per day or less doesn't raise the incidence of fetal development problems.

So, it depends on what "a few glasses of wine a week" means. One normal-sized glass with dinner probably isn't going to cause any future problem that anyone could currently diagnose. The stress of changing one's routine and forgoing it entirely for nine months might even be worse. If it were me, I'd probably abstain for the first trimester and then drink sparingly.

There are a lot of OB-GYNs

There are a lot of OB-GYNs who say that an occasionally glass of wine during pregnancy is okay, but many others who recommend abstaining completely. If your friend hasn't asked her doctor, she definitely should--about whether any wine is okay and about how much is too much.

What indreams said above is right on. No one really knows yet how much alcohol during pregnancy is safe. Some mothers drink throughout their pregnancy with no negative effects, while others might drink just a few times and still have a baby born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Drinking earlier in the pregnancy is thought to be most risky, but there could be other times in later trimesters when the fetus is particularly vulnerable to alcohol for some reason. We just don't know. Just one night of heavy drinking is enough to cause damage.

But just one glass a wine a few times a week? Drinking smaller amounts does lessen the risk--binge drinking is definitely more dangerous. Many women have done that with no adverse consequences to their baby. I personally thought it was better to err on the safe side and completely abstained from alcohol while pregnant. No safe amount of alcohol has been established, and it is known that alcohol passes through the placenta to the fetus.

-V-

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