The Evidence Against Light Drinking During Pregnancy Is Not Solid Enough

Scientists Claim NO Alcohol Is Safe During Pregnancy

Experts have welcomed a review that has found very limited evidence that light drinking in pregnancy harms unborn babies.

It is hoped the findings will help pregnant women make an informed choice about alcohol.

There is no proven "safe" amount that women can drink while pregnant, although there is plenty of evidence on the risky risks of heavy drinking.

They called for more research on light drinking in pregnancy, including possible benefits of light alcohol consumption versus abstinence.

Heavy drinking is not advised for anyone and can be especially risky for pregnant women because it may lead to a serious birth defects, such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

"Due to the limited number of studies investigating low alcohol consumption and due to a link found between this amount of alcohol (up 32 grams per week) and having a small-sized baby (small for gestational age), we advise women to abstain from alcohol consumption during pregnancy as per the United Kingdom guidelines", study co-author Dr. Loubaba Mamluk told Newsweek in an email.

Four units is equivalent to about two glasses of wine. Up to 80 per cent of women drink some alcohol during pregnancy.

In response, the scientists systematically studied numerous data sets from various eminent observational studies on the effect of light alcohol consumption (2 units up to twice a week, or 4 units a week, approximately equal to 32 grams) compared with consuming no alcohol at all.

Main image: Tatiana Vdb. How light alcohol exposure may affect a developing fetus is less clear. There was also some proof of an increased risk of preterm delivery, but less evidenced.

As a result women are told to avoid heavy or "binge drinking" but advice on "safe" drinking levels remains a grey area.

The researchers conducted a systematic review and analysis of 5,000 studies published between 1950 and July 2016 based on low alcohol consumption and pregnancy.

Though they highlight: "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

"A precautionary approach is still reasonable, but with luck this should dispel any guilt and anxiety felt by women who have an occasional glass of wine while they are pregnant". "Formulating guidance on the basis of the current evidence is challenging", she said, according to the New York Post. Guidance from the chief medical officer advises women to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, but women should have the right to know the paucity of evidence to support this position.

It looked particularly at complications of pregnancy and birth characteristics, such as miscarriage, premature birth, and undersized babies, and longer term issues, such as the developmental delays, impaired intellect and behavioral difficulties typical of fetal alcohol syndrome - effect of heavy drinking in pregnancy.

However, the Department of Health and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said the safest course of action is still for women to avoid drinking in pregnancy.

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