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Pregnancy drink warning as a study finds no harm

Tuesday June 18th, 2013

Women who drink a small glass of wine a day during pregnancy may not be harming their child, according to the latest study of the controversial topic.

The research lends new weight to those arguing that not all alcohol needs to be banned during pregnancy.

But midwives said today that the best advice remains for pregnant women to avoid alcohol.

The findings, published by BMJ Open, come from a study of nearly 7,000 children aged ten in the west of England.

Researchers sought to test brain development by tests of balance - concluding there was no evidence of problems linked to mothers having been drinkers during pregnancy.

However the researchers also found that women who drank during pregnancy tended to be wealthier than others - suggesting the possibility that any ill-effects might be masked by the benefits of an affluent lifestyle.

About 25% of the mothers drank up to seven glasses a week of alcohol.

The researchers at Bristol University, led by Professor John Macleod, say: "In general, better static balance was associated with greater levels of affluence and educational attainment.

"And in this group of mums, moderate alcohol intake was a marker for social advantage, which may itself be the key factor in better balance, possibly overriding subtle harmful effects of moderate alcohol use."

Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We recognise that this is useful research. However, there is also a large amount of evidence suggesting that the cumulative effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can harm the developing foetus.

"Our advice continues to be that for women who are trying to conceive or those that are pregnant it is best to avoid alcohol."

BMJ Open 18 June 2013 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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