Alcohol and Pregnancy: Not As Bad As Assumed

Wine, drinking, and alcohol have always been associated with a variety of negative effects, particularly on pregnant women and the fetuses they carry. The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to a number of unwanted side effects, including stunted cell growth and impaired nervous system development. The damage done by drinking during pregnancy can also sometimes lead to neurological disorders later on in life, though only under certain circumstances. However, recent medical studies have discovered that a little drinking during pregnancy may not pose such a high risk as it has been thought to be, provided the amounts are carefully monitored and are not in excess.

Now, numerous studies have pointed out that drinking while pregnant is a negative factor. These same studies have shown that women who had drinking binges while expecting have children who develop a variety of problems later in life, both in physical wellness and mental health. However, it is worth noting that the studies have not exactly determined what in alcohol causes these problems, or if alcohol indulgence causes these issues at all. In recent studies, evidence has come to light that alcohol may not be as large a factor for causing ill effects during pregnancy as initially believed. There is some debate on whether or not it is as damaging as initially believed, but most do not doubt that it would have a few side effects.

Recently, the University of Oxford conducted studies into the issue under the leadership of Dr. Ron Gray. The researchers began by reviewing the results and conditions of 14 previous studies to try and eliminate any factors other than the biological and chemical that might have contributed to the results. According to the team’s preliminary findings, previous studies limited their definitions of what it means to “binge drink” and did not seem to take certain factors into account. Factors such as frequency were paid attention to by some, while others ignored it in favor of amount of alcohol ingested.

Currently, no studies have revealed a link between occasional drinking binges and effects such as stillbirths, miscarriages, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Other problems include poor IQ scores and social development skills, suffering academic performance, and learning disabilities. The word “occasional” is considered to be the critical term in the study’s definition. There is no doubt that regular binging on alcohol is going to guarantee some sort of damage to the fetus, but there is no evidence what imbibing smaller amounts with less frequency can do. Some parties have taken issue with the study’s definition of binge drinking, which only includes women who drink throughout the pregnancy period. This puts their assumption that “occasional drinking doesn’t cause much damage” into a questionable light.

For the time being, most doctors are still likely to advise women to stay away from drinking. While there may be no damage done in a drink or two, there is still no direct information on just how much alcohol it would take to cause damage. The amount of time in between drinks is also unknown, which adds another complication. It may be that occasional drinking can do no damage, while regular intake (even of smaller amounts) can cause long-term defects. Or it is possible that quantity of alcohol imbibed, regardless of what intervals are in between binges. At the moment, researchers are taking the stand that further study is needed to fully understand all possible angles of this situation.