Addiction A-Z

Drinking while pregnant

In the 90‘s doctors, after numerous studies into Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, began recommending that pregnant women not drink alcohol at all. The shift away from ingesting substances was so dramatic that many women wondered whether it was ok to even take something for their cold or headache. Some saw this complete and total ban on drinking during pregnancy as a bit on the dramatic side, considering the fact that women who drank alcohol from the time their egg was inseminated until the time they discovered they were pregnant (as much as four or five months later) still managed to give birth to quite normal babies.

The policy of abstinence lasted for several years until, at some point, doctors started easing the restrictions on pre-natal drinking and, in some cases, actually encouraged it. What we are left with is a medical establishment that is split on the issue. It may be that both sides are correct.

In 2010, a study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that suggested drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy would not necessarily hurt the baby. When the medical histories of over 10,000 babies born over a two year period were reviewed, it was discovered that there was not a significant difference in the development of babies where the mother had one or two drinks a week during pregnancy versus when the mother abstained from drinking completely.

While the researchers were able to back up their hypothesis with evidence, many doctors decried the study as giving pregnant women license to start down the slippery slope. Their fear may be well founded as the difference between a safe and unsafe quantity of alcohol could be just one drink. Do we trust mothers to know when to stop?

In the face of conflicting advice, what’s a pregnant woman to do? It’s simple. When charged with the care and nurturing of another being, err on the side of caution and refrain from drinking until after you’ve either given birth or finished breast feeding, whichever comes last. While it may put a crimp in your weekend plans, isn’t even a tiny risk to your baby too great?

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