October 22, 2015
Navigating the tangled web of pregnancy and parenting advice can be difficult, particularly when there are so many opposing positions on a variety of topics.
But one age-old debate – whether drinking alcohol while pregnant, even in extreme moderation, is safe for developing babies - has been ruled an absolute "no" by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The association issued a clinical report on Monday that basically said no amount of alcohol, regardless of the trimester, kind of alcohol or period of time between imbibing, is considered safe while pregnant.
In the report, the group states that consuming alcohol while pregnant is the “leading preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities in children.”
It also notes that first-trimester drinking, compared to no drinking, has been found to result in 12 times the odds of giving birth to a child with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, while first- and second-trimester drinking increased the odds 61 times, and women who drink during all trimesters have 65 times the increased odds.
Nonetheless, there have been studies that say otherwise – including a 2010 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that found children of mothers who drank one or two glasses of alcohol a week while pregnant had no problems with behavioral or intellectual development – which explains confusion among pregnant women.
The AAP explains the discrepancies by saying that all mothers and babies react differently to alcohol, therefore, the only safe option is to abstain.
"The research suggests that the smartest choice for women who are pregnant is to just abstain from alcohol completely," said Dr. Janet F. Williams, one of the leading authors of the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.