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Light drinking when pregnant not a risk to baby, say researchers

One or two units of alcohol a week may not damage a baby’s development.

A STUDY HAS concluded that light drinking during pregnancy poses no risk to a woman’s unborn child, reports the BBC.

The research, published in the the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found no evidence that alcohol consumption of one or two units a week posed any risk to a foetus.

The study focused on 11,000 five-year-olds across the UK and found that no damage was done to children whose mothers’ drank lightly during their pregnancies.

However, official advice has not changed in light of the study, led by University College London.

Mothers are still advised to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy to avoid their children developing emotional, behavioural or physical problems.

Heavy drinking during pregnancy has been linked to severe developmental problems for children.

Speaking to the BBC, Chris Sorek, the chief executive of alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware said:

Despite these findings, it is important to remember that ‘light drinking’ can mean different things to different people.

There is a risk that if pregnant women take this research as a green light to drink a small amount, they could become complacent, drink more than they think they are and inadvertently cause harm to their unborn child.

The results

The original study found no evidence of problems in the test group by age three, but in the latest study researchers extended examination until school age to make sure nothing had emerged later on in a child’s life.

The research actually showed that children born to light drinkers seemed slightly less likely to suffer behavioural problems. Those same children  and scored higher on cognitive tests, compared children whose mothers’ had abstained form alcohol during pregnancy.

Dr Yvonne Kelly from University College London said:

There’s now a growing body of robust evidence that there is no increase in developmental difficulties associated with light drinking during pregnancy.

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