New Guidelines Say Women Should Absolutely Not Drink During Pregnancy

Written by Anna Williams

Sure, we all know you shouldn't binge when you have a baby on the way. But there have been some hints recently that enjoying the occasional glass of alcohol during pregnancy might be perfectly fine.

Not so, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group published a major report in the November 2015 issue of Pediatrics that takes a strict stance. “No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy," the AAP declared in a press release.

While it's not an entirely new recommendation, it's still significant, given that a recent CDC report found as many as 1 in 10 pregnant women have had a drink in the last 30 days.

The AAP report looked at what's called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a broad term that includes not only the more well-known birth defects of fetal alcohol syndrome, but also subtler problems that may show up later in life, such as language delays and hyperactivity in kids. Even light drinking during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of these developmental issues, the report noted. And while the authors acknowledge that many children whose mothers had a drink here and there while pregnant develop normally, they emphasize that there’s no way to know what exact amount is safe — which means they have to recommend avoiding alcohol 100 percent.

“No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy."

That news may be surprising to some expectant moms, as a number of experts have recently suggested that the odd glass of wine isn't anything to worry about. Expecting Better, a popular 2013 book by the Brown University economics professor Emily Oster, concluded that “the evidence overwhelmingly shows that light drinking is fine.”

It's true there has been published research that found no increased risk with an occasional drink. But the AAP report argues that these studies weren’t necessarily looking at all possible measures of harm, including the long-term developmental issues they focused on.

Dr. Aviva Romm, a family physician specializing in obstetrics, agrees with the new guidelines. “While there have been reports from Europe that a few ounces here and there may be OK, overall, there has never been a safe amount of alcohol established for pregnancy," she said. "Of course, if you become pregnant and unwittingly have a drink, please don’t panic. Just don’t intentionally drink."

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