Warning even small amount of alcohol while pregnant can cause birth abnormalities

By Staff 5 Min Read

New research has shown that no amount of drinking during pregnancy is safe, because even low to moderate alcohol use can cause babies to be smaller and premature

Pregnant women have been warned they risk birth abnormalities by drinking any amount of alcohol.

A new study found no level of booze is safe when expecting, with even low to moderate drinking potentially causing babies to be premature or underweight.

The research, published in the Alcohol Clinical and Experimental Research journal, also discovered the impact of drinking on the developing baby may differ depending on their gender. Boy babies were found to be more likely to be born early, while girls were more likely to have a low birth weight.

Experts from the University of New Mexico studied 281 pregnant women and their children, reports Wales Online. They focused on those who drank moderately or occasionally, or around the time they conceived or before realising they were expecting.

Despite most women ditching or cutting down on alcohol after discovering their pregnancy, deficits were still seen in both male and female infants.

Professor Ludmila Bakhireva said: “We know quite a bit from these earlier studies of heavy alcohol use about the effect on prenatal outcomes, especially preterm delivery and growth restriction, as well as neurodevelopmental outcomes, but we specifically focused on more moderate alcohol exposure because it’s much more prevalent.”

“Almost everybody drinks before they know they are pregnant, and risky drinking before pregnancy is predictive of drinking later on. That’s a unique aspect of the study. We carefully looked at the patterns of drinking around conception and early pregnancy.”

The scientists hope that their paper will encourage pregnant women to steer clear of booze, and they hope to study the topic on a larger scale in the future. Professor Bakhireva concluded: “I think this study, as well as prior preclinical studies, show that even moderate alcohol use might have negative effects.”

“The degree of negative effects might vary, and it is important to address alcohol use without the stigma often associated with it, but overall, if we try to encourage abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy, we will maximise positive health and developmental outcomes for the children.”

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