One or Two
Drinks Daily May Harm Baby
University of Madison-Wisconsin says drinking
in early pregnancy is dangerous
15 Aug 2001
Women in early pregnancy,
and even those who are considering becoming pregnant should cut
out cocktails, wine and beer completely, according to the results
of a preliminary study on animals.
Researchers found that one or two drinks a day, even during early
pregnancy may be just as damaging to neurobehavioral development
of their infants as exposing them to drinking throughout the pregnancy,
or during its late stages. And because alcohol can have an impact
even before the pregnancy is detected, scientists suggest women
who are trying to get pregnant stop drinking.
Drinking Moms, Inattentive
The study looked at 63
rhesus monkeys whose mothers consumed up to two alcoholic drinks
a day during the equivalent of a human trimester. The baby monkeys'
attention spans, and motor maturity were significantly reduced,
though their growth was not, according to the research, reported
in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
For a long time, most doctors have told pregnant women not to drink,
or at least not to drink heavily, because of the possibility of
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, though more liberal doctors have said an
occasional glass of wine won't hurt. The study's early, but
it clearly suggests drinking at any point in the pregnancy can cause
some harmful effects, ABCNEWS' Dr. Nancy Snyderman said. So
why put yourself at any sort of risk? Don't drink if you're pregnant.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
is the leading cause of mental retardation. The Centers for Disease
Control estimates that there has been a six-fold increase in the
number of babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the last 15
years. Meanwhile, a 1998 survey by the CDC found that the number
of pregnant women who reported drinking rose from 9.5 percent in
1992 to 15.3 percent three years later.
The researchers, led
by Dr. Mary L. Schneider of the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
found that a key factor may be when a pregnant woman drinks as opposed
to how much.
Better off Tee-Totaling
The study's bottom line:
if you're pregnant or even thinking of becoming pregnant, researchers
do not know what a safe level for drinking is, and you are better
off not drinking at all. The monkeys used in the study are the closest
that scientists can come to human studies, Snyderman said. The lead
author of the study, Mary L. Schneider of the University of Madison-Wisconsin,
said that earlier studies were deceptive, because women who report
drinking late in pregnancy have usually consumed throughout, so
it's hard to sort out their timeline. Also, since many women of
childbearing age drink regularly, it's likely that some offspring
are exposed to alcohol before pregnancy is detected.