A new study out of Denmark found that mild to moderate drinking may be okay in pregnancy (that’s 1-4 drinks per week). Besides being controversial, there’s a lot of misinformation going around, including local newspapers reporting that binge drinking is okay during pregnancy.
So, what’s the deal? Well, the CDC has not changed its stance that women should abstain from drinking during pregnancy, but if you can’t hold out, a drink here or there may be ok.
What else should pregnant women consider?
- Drinking may make conceiving harder if you’re already having problems.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome is a real thing associated with heavy drinking during pregnancy.
- There’s a genetic component:
- Previous studies on alcohol tolerance found that people whose ancestors hailed from major cities had a higher tolerance level, where those who lived in rural areas had a much lower tolerance (presumably because they had access to fresh water that generations of city dwellers didn’t).
- People of Asian descent don’t make, or make less of, an enzyme necessary to completely break down alcohol (it’s a two step process). That means it’s going to have more time in their system to cross the placenta and affect the baby.
- Particularly small women or women who aren’t regular drinkers may be more affected by alcohol than larger women or those whose livers are used to processing alcohol regularly.
Finally, “no noticeable effect” is not the same as “no effect”. While everyone just wants to have a normal, healthy baby, there’s no doubt that alcohol crosses the placenta, and so I find it difficult to believe it’s not killing at least a few brain cells. It’s great to have a healthy baby, but you’ll never know what marginal effects it may have had.
If you’re able to abstain from alcohol, it’s still the safest decision during pregnancy.
Do you agree? It’s valid to have a few drinks during pregnancy, but is it worth the risk? Weigh in below!