The Australian Government doesn’t mince words when it comes to drinking while pregnant – “… the safest option is not to drink alcohol”.
According to the latest guidelines from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), there are no longer any minimums or maximums when it comes to imbibing in pregnancy, just a blanket ‘don’t do it’.
The main reason for this is that there’s no amount of alcohol that has been categorically proven as safe to drink during pregnancy, so therefore the broad advice is to avoid it altogether, both while you’re pregnant and when you’re trying to conceive.
What is known?
For a while now the medical profession has been well aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of a baby being born with foetal alcohol syndrome, a lifelong condition inflicted on babies in utero which can include physical and mental problems.
Other potential adverse effects of heavy or binge drinking while pregnant can include spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and attention and learning difficulties.
What if you drink before you know?
It’s the panic of so many women who find out they’re pregnant – what about those few glasses of wine before they knew they’d conceived?
National organisation and website Drinkwise provides some reassurance for mums-to-be: “If you drank small amounts of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, be reassured that the risk of harm to your baby is low.
“Once you know you are pregnant it is safest to stop drinking alcohol completely for the rest of your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. This will increase your baby’s chances of being healthy.”
Is one drink too many?
Based on the NHMRC guidelines, the answer to that question is ‘yes’. But there has been some research published about the impact of small amounts of alcohol on unborn babies – and the results aren’t so scary, kidspot reports.
A 2010 UK study found that the five-year-old children of women who drank up to one to two alcoholic drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy were not at an increased risk of behavioural or cognitive problems. However, the authors noted that it’s possible that developmental problems linked to maternal drinking could emerge later in childhood.
“Indeed, for some behavioural and cognitive outcomes, children born to light drinkers were less likely to have problems compared to children of abstinent mothers, although children born to heavy drinkers were more likely to have problems compared to children of mothers who drank nothing whilst pregnant,” said study lead author Dr Yvonne Kelly of University College London.
Nevertheless, at this time the safest option as recommended in Australia is total abstinence. Your doctor or health care professional can provide more information.topics from