The NHS warns pregnant women to ignore the media when it comes to drinking. Reports by the media that it is safe for pregnant women to consume up to 12 alcoholic drinks per week has the NHS worried. This comes after the media reported on several studies that do not show a link between low to moderate drinking and health problems in Children.
The studies examined the drinking habits of pregnant women and then compared those habits to the health of their children. In particular, the studies examined the children’s IQ, general intelligence, attention, planning ability and organisation. These factors did not seem to be influenced by the mothers low or moderate drinking or binge drinking.
However, the NHS cautions that this is not a free pass for mothers to hit the pub. Health officials warn that these studies did not take into consideration many of the adverse side effects of drinking while pregnant. In a statement responding to media claims, the NHS said, “There is still uncertainty about what constitutes a "safe" level of alcohol during pregnancy, if any amount is safe. The research does not alter the current advice in the UK for women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. The Department of Health (DH) advises that alcohol is to be avoided in pregnancy if possible, while the independent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) specifically advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy because of the risk of miscarriage.”
For those women who do choose to drink during pregnancy, the NHS recommends no more than one to two UK unites per week. Women should also not get drunk as this can harm their baby. One of the studies reported on by the media found that after nine drinks per week, a pregnant mother could affect her unborn baby’s attention span in later life.
Overall the NHS said the studies were a great addition to our knowledge of pregnancy and alcohol, but it is impossible to draw any hard conclusions from the data. This is because of a small sample size and the fact that alcohol can affect so many things. A few tests is simply not enough to prove that drinking while pregnant is a safe option.
To see the full NHS response to the studies click here.