"Sure, I'll Have Another"
A slew of new studies OK (some) drinking during pregnancy
When video of a very pregnant Kate Hudson casually sipping a glass of wine with dinner surfaced last year, the star was slammed for jeopardizing her baby’s health. But is there now proof to put Kate—and other moms-to-be who decide to imbibe—in the right?
Not one, but five new studies out of Denmark suggest so. The CDC-funded research says what many European women have long believed: moderate drinking during pregnancy poses no harm to developing babies. Even occasional binge drinking got a pass (What?!). And it’s reigniting the great debate around how much—if any—alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy.
Researchers measured the IQ, attention span, and decision-making ability of more than 1,600 5-year-olds and compared that to their mothers’ self-reported drinking habits during pregnancy. When stacked up against kids whose moms had abstained, researchers found no differences in children’s scores when moms reported light drinking (1 to 4 drinks a week) or moderate imbibing (5 to 8 drinks). Even occasional binge drinking (5+ drinks in a single session) did not appear tied to developmental issues. Heavy drinkers (9+ drinks per week) had children with lower attention span, but not necessarily lower IQ.
But still. What about fetal alcohol syndrome? And what of the CDC’s own stipulation that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy? Well, nothing’s changed there. Until further research expands on these findings, the official line in the US is that alcohol is still right up there with smoking as a top preventable cause of developmental issues in children. But the research should help reassure moms who drank before finding out they were pregnant. And those who take a European-style approach to drinking while pregnant—a glass of wine, here; beer with your dinner—now have a study to cite to nosey friends, family, and fellow restaurant-goers.
What says the momosphere? “I can’t believe binge drinking is ever a good idea for anyone,” says Suzie Cooper, an expectant mom from Colts Neck, New Jersey. “Unless my doctor pours me a glass at my next checkup, I’m still abstaining.”
But Katrina Fleming, a Baltimore, Maryland, mom of two with one on the way, is more than OK with the occasional glass of wine. “I don’t see the harm in light drinking. It helps me relax after a long day at work. Too much stress is bad during pregnancy, too! Why doesn’t this get discussed?”
And just to confuse things even more, in Australia, where, for the last decade or so, light drinking was officially sanctioned during pregnancy, there’s now a plan afoot to label all wine, beer, and spirits with cigarette-style warnings that no amount is safe.
What’s a pregnant woman to do?
Move to France.
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