Did anyone else read these two articles on alcohol consumption during pregnancy that came out within three days of each other earlier this summer?
Well, which is it? This happens all too often. Conflicting information is put out into the internet universe, and women and their families are left to decipher which guidelines to follow.
A series of studies out of Denmark examined the effects of drinking low (1-4 drinks/week), moderate (5-8 drinks/week), and high (more than 9 drinks/week) amounts of alcohol on “IQ, attention span, executive functions such as planning, organization, and self-control in five year old children”. The data showed no effect on any of these neurodevelopmental measures for women who particpated in low or moderate drinking during their pregnancies. For women who drank high amounts of alcohol per week (>9 drinks/week), there were some negative effects on their children’s attention span. The recommendations from this study state that it is still advisable to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, but low alcohol consumption seems to cause no developmental damage. Additionally, longer term research (beyond the effects on children at age 5) is necessary to identify any possible long-term effects.
The second headline, out of University of California, was a response piece to the Danish studies. The California researchers stated that because alcohol is metabolized differently in every individual person’s body, there is no way to establish any “safe” amount of alcohol for women to consume during pregnancy. What is a safe amount of alcohol for one woman, may not be for another woman. They conclude that “the best advice continues to be that women should avoid alcohol entirely during the nine months that she is carrying the baby”.
As it turns out, both groups of researchers are advocating for avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. But would you have thought that from simply glancing at the first headline?