Light Drinking in Pregnancy is Little Harmful

Up to 80 per cent of expectant mothers drink some alcohol during pregnancy

Doctors have always warned pregnant women not to drink alcohol because that would affect their fetus.

Because a small number of pregnant woman do drink - a 2015 report found more than 10 percent of pregnant women imbibed within the past 30 days - there's also a pressing need for research on alcohol consumption at different stages of pregnancy, and safe upper limits of alcohol consumption, the United Kingdom researchers say.

Many pregnant women drink varying quantities of alcohol, although several guidelines recommend total sobriety.

The review, published in the journal BMJ Open, included experts from the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

There had been research to suggest that there is no evidence of harm from drinking a maximum of one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week.

A research team found hardly any studies examined whether a few drinks a week cause major complications for babies, including birth defects, developmental delay, behavioural problems and impaired intelligence.

The researchers also cautioned that correlation does not mean causation. There was also evidence that these women were 10 percent more likely to have a premature baby, though this link was less clear.

Experts agree that binge or heavy drinking while pregnant is extremely risky for a fetus, and advise against it.

Research on the potential risks of light drinking during pregnancy is really scarce.

Still, he said, "the message from the March of Dimes is: Don't drink alcohol if you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant".

And given the "paucity of evidence", the advice for now must remain "better safe than sorry", the researchers concluded.

That said, they nevertheless advised expectant mothers not to drink any alcohol just in case, although they added that health professionals should inform women about the lack of evidence against alcohol. But a new review of several existing studies hints that small amounts of alcohol may slightly boost the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.

"Formulating advice on the basis of the current evidence is challenging because we are still building the full picture of what happens to the unborn baby when small amounts of alcohol reach the bloodstream or brain", said Dr Luisa Zuccolo, who co-led the study.

To prevent women about the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde launched a "No alcohol, no alcohol harm" campaign on Friday. In spite of this, recommendations have changed.

We already know heavy drinking during pregnancy harms babies.

Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, acknowledged that research hasn't been conclusive about low use of alcohol in pregnant women.

Some small correlation was made between the light alcohol intake and being small at gestational age, and preterm birth - but the latter were not statistically significant.

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