Is It Really OK to Drink while Pregnant?

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By Kristin Sidorov
Drinking alcohol while pregnant is risky business. Studies have proven that a heavy dose of alcohol can bring the risk of serious birth defects. But the complicated thing about risk is that it can be a pretty vague term. Where do the limits of drinking while pregnant lie? Is there a chance it’s actually OK to enjoy your wine with a baby on board?

It turns out that yes, you can. No one has been able to determine exactly how much alcohol is considered safe or unsafe during pregnancy. As a result, the CDC advises all women to abstain from imbibing during pregnancy as a general precaution to nip any potential risks in the bud. When it comes totheir baby’s health, any risk, no matter how vague, is probably one most women are simply not willing to take.

But new research shows that the window of safe alcohol consumption while pregnant might be a bit safer than necessary. The study, funded by the CDC, suggests that light drinking (1 to 4 drinks a week) and even moderate alcohol consumption (5 to 8 drinks a week) might be OK.

Researchers questioned women on their drinking habits during pregnancy and compared those with the IQs, attention spans, and decision-making skills of the mothers’ 5 year-old children. Surprisingly, they found no correlation between low to moderate alcohol consumption in early to mid pregnancy with the neuro-development of their children.

However, it’s important to realize that these findings are full of their own vague terms: the results “suggest” that it “might” be OK, but that isn’t exactly a rock-solid validation. Nothing in this research should be seen as definitive, and it doesn’t simply negate the concrete research that already proves alcohol can cause problems. If anything, it only opens up more doors for new research to answer the questions that remain. Alcohol is still seen as the No. 1 preventable cause of birth defects, and researchers point out that no alcohol is still the safest bet for a risk-free pregnancy.

At the very least, it’s reassuring to know that if you had a few glasses of wine the week before you got the big news, or had a few sips of Champagne at your shower, there’s little reason to beat yourself up about it.

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