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Can Pregnant Women Drink Low Amounts Of Alcohol? Maybe, But Maybe Not

13 September 2017, 7:12 am EDT By Vincent Lanaria Tech Times
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More than 1 in 8 Americans are now alcoholics
Researchers aim to determine whether or not light drinking is safe for pregnant women, including how much is fine. However, the consensus is still to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.  ( Clemens Bilan | Getty Images )

Is it OK for pregnant women to drink alcohol, even just a tiny bit? The short answer is, it's still unclear.

While excessive alcohol has been established to bring about numerous dangers for the babies, researchers haven't quite figured out whether or not light drinking would cause significant harm.

Still Not Completely Safe

In the paper, the researchers at the Bristol University in the UK say that studies have been few and far between, reviewing all the available related resources from 1950 and July 2016.

Even though concrete findings are still up in the air, they recommend avoiding any amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when attempting to conceive, an advice based on the maxim "better safe than sorry" and official UK guidelines (PDF).

In a 2016 report, the CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urged women to refrain from taking any alcohol if they suspect they are pregnant or if they are not on birth control.

With the same sentiment, ACOG or The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that "there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy," as the substance can affect the fetus throughout.

1 In 10 Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol

According to a 2015 CDC report, 10.2 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol, 3.1 percent of which binge drink. The study involved U.S. residents ages 18 to 44 years old.

The medical risks involved in heavy drinking during pregnancy includes stillbirth, miscarriage, and physical and mental issues in the baby. While that's already clear, the same can't be said just yet when it comes to light drinking.

As such, the research aims to confirm the potential effects of light drinking in pregnant women. It will address and provide a solid answer to the question that soon-to-be mothers may have in their minds: Is it all right to drink alcohol in controlled miniscule portions? That includes finding a possible safe amount of alcohol consumption for pregnant women.

"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," the paper reads.

The main takeaway here is that there is little evidence that light drinking is harmful to the fetuses of pregnant women, but that doesn't mean it's safe to consume small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. However, those who have already can find comfort in the possibility that they haven't put their unborn babies in serious risk.

The study is published in the BMJ Open journal.

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