Pregnant women can drink up to one glass of wine a day without harming their child’s neurodevelopment, a new British study claims.
The findings will likely add more confusion surrounding drinking alcohol when pregnant, and contradict official recommendations from many government agencies to avoid alcohol altogether when expecting.
University of Bristol researchers recruited nearly 7,000 ten-year-olds, who underwent a 20-minute assessment testing dynamic balance by walking on a beam and static balance, including standing on one leg with their eyes both open and closed.
Seventy percent of the mothers, whose alcohol consumption had been monitored both at 18 weeks and again after birth, had drunk no alcohol while pregnant. One in four mothers had consumed small amounts of alcohol, about one glass a week, or moderate amounts, anywhere from three to seven glasses per week. About one in 20 moms drank more, and one in seven drank four or more glasses at any one point.
Findings showed that higher total alcohol consumption before and after pregnancy was associated with better performance by the children, particularly in static balance.
"Low to moderate alcohol consumption did not seem to interfere with a child's ability to balance for any of the three components assessed," said Professor John Macleod of the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol.
But he noted that “moderate alcohol intake was a marker for social advantage, which may itself be the key factor in better balance, possibly overriding subtle harmful effects of moderate alcohol use."
The findings were published June 17 in the journal BMJ Open.
The findings support a separate British study published in April that found that pregnant women who drank small amounts of alcohol -- about one glass a week -- weren't likely doing any harm to their child. While the link between heavy alcohol consumption and health and developmental problems in children is well established, the researchers said that the picture is different for light drinking. Findings appeared in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
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