The latest report from Oxford research group confirms what has been a matter of intense debate that alcohol in pregnancy could be very harmful to the baby’s development.
There have been many studies before with similar conclusions, but these have been countered by the others that small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy is safe.
Even the Departments of health and NICE have not been explicit as to say “DO NOT Drink during pregnancy” in their advice regarding drinking during pregnancy.
For example advice from NICE states (2208, 2010):
Additional advice from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
Advice from the Department of Health states:
“Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, they should not drink more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk. Additional advice from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.”
Source: Department of Health Archives:
Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states (2006):
“When a woman drinks during pregnancy, the alcohol passes from her blood
stream through the placenta and into the baby’s blood stream.
● The safest approach in pregnancy is to choose not to drink at all.
● Small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy (not more than one to two units,
not more than once or twice a week) have not been shown to be harmful.”
Advice from the Royal college of Midwives is similar and based on same scienfitic reports.
It is not surprising then that women are confused and sometimes angry and frustrated.
The latest study clearly advises not to drink alcohol, if at all possible because the minimum safety levels are not known. Furthermore, the baby’s susceptibility to the effects of alcohol on the brain depends on the baby’s genetic predisposition. This is hard to know at in the antenatal period.
This is not the end of the debate unfortunately. A study will come out, soon or later, with the opposite advice, or cast doubt on what has been published in the last few days. This will not be bad, in terms of scientific discussion, but it is the publish which cannot take zigzagging information when it comes to the health of their unborn baby.
So Bumps Pregnancy Care Advice, based on the latest published evidence, is…To be safe, stay off alcohol during pregnancy. You will probably miss nothing in the process!
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