Drinking Moderately While Pregnant Gets Another Greenish Light

New UK study finds light drinking while pregnant doesn't show any negative effects, while Health Canada remains steadfast in its stance that there is no safe amount and no safe time to drink when pregnant


 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has always been a hot button topic. My GP was liberal when she was giving me directives when I came to her pregnant for the first time. “Everything is fine in moderation,” she said. “Even alcohol.” 

There are many studies out there to support her that allowance, all of which say light drinking doesn’t show any negative effects. Now, there is another study to add to that list.

A new study out of Britain looked at 10,000 seven year olds, some of whom had mothers who drank small amounts (defined as up to 2 units of alcohol a week - defined as a half pint of beer or a single measure of spirits) and others who fully abstained. The study found ‘little’ difference between the two groups, in terms of behavioural or mental development . Key word there being ‘little.’ Doesn’t sound conclusive to me.

Yvonne Kelly, the study co-author, acknowledged that drinking in pregnancy can have negative consequences. “We know heavy drinking during pregnancy has a very deleterious effect, but it is very unlikely that drinking small amounts will have an impact,” she told BBC News.

Again, a qualifier. “Very unlikely.”

Here’s the problem: No study can be or will ever be done to say how much is, in fact, too much. Because no researcher is going to risk the health of a child by a controlled study where women drink various amounts to see how much it takes to give birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. So every study will have to have similar qualifiers. Not exactly definitive conclusions that pregnant women can bank on.  

Health Canada remains steadfast in its stance that there is no safe amount and no safe time to drink when pregnant.

I have no issue with imbibing a little when pregnant. Enough studies say that small amounts are safe that I would have felt comfortable having a drink here and there. I chose not to, mostly because I’d want a bigger glass of wine than I would think would be okay to enjoy, so I didn’t bother having any at all. But I have no issue with people who choose to have a little bit here and there.

The Hospital for Sick Children remains firm on their stance that “women should be advised to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. There are insufficient data to suggest a safe threshold for fetal alcohol exposure."

Studies like these seemingly give more creditability to the ‘it’s okay to drink while pregnant’ team when, in fact, they don’t push forward anything we didn’t already know. 'Some' alcohol is proven to safe. No study can define the point at which 'some' becomes 'too much' though' and no study will. 

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