We have all grown up with hearing our parents and health care providers warn expectant mothers about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant. Many of us, while we are expecting have asked ourselves and others if there really is a risk to consuming alcohol while pregnant. Is there really a risk or is this an old wives tale passed on from generation to generation?

Alcohol and pregnancy

With all the breakthroughs scientists and researchers have made, can they shed light on this issue? Research conducted at the University Of Bristol in England found evidence that even light alcohol consumption during pregnancy can be associated with women delivering babies with low birth weight, as well as premature birth.

The study conducted by the University of Bristol looked at 26 studies of women who had used alcohol from low to moderate levels during their pregnancy. A drink to the researchers was defined as that which is equal to a pint of strong beer or a medium sized glass of white wine. These women were then compared to women who did not consume any alcohol during their pregnancy. Due to the small sample, sufficient evidence on the Effects Of Alcohol consumption on the unborn child could not be determined conclusively.

The research found that women who seemed to consume alcohol had an eight percent higher chance of having a baby with low birth weight. 10 percent of these women were more likely to experience a premature delivery of their babies.

The new findings were based on analysis of seven and nine studies from the original 26 studies. The trials that were included in the seven studies reviewed as few as 500 women up to 9,000 women.

With the nine studies, trials were held with as few as 500 women to as many as 36,000. The study was not conclusive nor did it take into consideration other factors such as smoking habits.

The findings of the research are unclear of the true extent alcohol consumption has on babies during the gestation period as this study conducted, researchers acknowledged, was sparse. Dr. Jarris, the chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, stated that the research is not conclusive about the usage of alcohol by pregnant women.

So even though you may be tempted, Dr. Jarris strongly advises against the use of any type of alcoholic substance if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Dr. Jarris stated that the study was not clear whether there was a threshold for safe alcohol use before the levels became a danger to the developing fetus. Dr. Jarris continued that there was uncertainty as to whether small amounts could cause harm which may be difficult to detect.

Truth or myth? Is alcohol harmful to the fetus?

Whatever the mother consumes during pregnancy passes to the fetus. Therefore, when a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol will also pass to the baby through the umbilical cord.

Dr. Jarris explained that when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol and passes it onto the baby, it can harm the baby’s developing brain and other organs.

He emphasized that each pregnancy is different, so while one woman may have consumed alcohol and her baby was okay, another woman may suffer complications. Therefore, there is no clear way to predict what the outcomes of consuming alcohol will have on the baby.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention within the United States says that alcohol use during pregnancy can be linked to numerous health problems for babies both short term and long term.

Some effects of alcohol on the baby include harm to the speech, size, weight, vision, and hearing. They also urge women to refrain from consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

So, it is recommended, despite the temptation, that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, to refrain from consuming alcohol.

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