Light drinking 'does no harm in pregnancy'

Light drinking 'does no harm in pregnancy'

Light drinking 'does no harm in pregnancy'

The occasional glass of wine or champagne during pregnancy can not be considered safe due to a lack of evidence and alcohol must be avoided, researchers warn.

"Women who have had a drink while pregnant should be reassured that they are unlikely to have caused their baby considerable harm, but if anxious, they should discuss this with their GP or midwife".

They recommended pregnant women do not drink alcohol "just in case".

Last year Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, issued fresh guidance on alcohol, saying: "Although the risk of harm to the baby is low if [mothers] have drunk small amounts of alcohol before becoming aware of the pregnancy, there is no "safe" level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant".

Researchers examined 26 previous studies on the effects of light drinking, defined as up to four units a week, or about two glasses of wine, compared with no alcohol, during pregnancy.

"Despite the distinction between light drinking and abstinence being the point of most tension and confusion for health professionals and pregnant women and contributing to inconsistent guidance and advice now and in the past, our extensive review shows that this specific question is not being researched thoroughly enough, if at all".

"As the evidence is uncertain, the lowest risk approach is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy".

The team of researchers used all available research that has been carried out on the subject and found no evidence of harm other than an association between light drinking (up to four units of alcohol per week) and smaller babies.

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They found that, on average, it was associated with an eight per cent higher risk of having a small baby compared with drinking no alcohol at all.

The advice backs the guidelines from the HSE, which recommends abstinence.

Consuming even low amounts of alcohol in pregnancymay be linked with higher chances of having a small baby and delivering prematurely, according to United Kingdom researchers.

A study earlier this year in 11 European countries said that about 16 percent of expectant mothers overall reported drinking some alcohol, ranging from 29 percent in Britain, 27 percent in Russian Federation and 21 percent in Switzerland, to just over four percent in Norway.

The evidence that light drinking affected delivering prematurely was weaker and there was insufficient evidence on other health outcomes, noted the study authors.

The evidence on how much, if any, is safe to drink, or at what stages of pregnancy, is notable by its absence, they add.

It also highlights the failure of researchers so far to focus on "light" drinking versus no drinking, rather than just on moderate and heavy drinking.

"In the absence of strong evidence, advice to women to steer clear of alcohol while pregnant should be made on the basis that it is a precautionary measure and is the safest option", she said.

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