Beer and Pregnancy—Is Tasting in Moderation Ok?

By Julia Herz

Well, this topic sure caught my eye. A study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health had much to say about new research on “low-dose” drinking during pregnancy.

Inspired by the study, numerous media outlets reported the news, including this item from, Discovery News: Light Drinking Said OK for Pregnant Women.

From Discovery News: The study, which found no evidence of harm from having a couple drinks a week during pregnancy, was so well done and its findings so conclusive that it ought to become the final word in the field, said Fred Bookstein, an applied statistician who studies fetal alcohol spectrum disorders at both the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Vienna. “It is no longer valid to argue that we don’t know enough about low-dose drinking during pregnancy or that the known effects of binge drinking may penetrate to low-dose drinkers somehow,” he added. “There is no detectable risk associated with light or moderate drinking during pregnancy.

Wow. Mr. Brookstein certainly believes in this research, but does that mean it’s valid? With two young children, the question of beer and pregnancy is something I’ve pondered personally. I chose not to drink beer during my pregnancies, but did desire to do so. One statistic I saw online said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates 15 percent of US women do drink alcohol while pregnant.

Reports on the study go as far to say that children from mothers who were light appreciators (one to two drinks a week) while pregnant had slightly higher cognitive test scores than children whose mothers refrained from any alcohol during their pregnancy.

As reported on Discovery News, the study also indicates: …”children born to heavy binge drinkers do worst on developmental tests, because excessive exposure to alcohol in the womb kills nerve cells and causes brain damage. I feel this is important to state wherever the topic is discussed. Additionally, a statement from the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2005 warned pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to abstain from alcohol consumption in order to eliminate the chance of giving birth to a baby with any of the harmful effects of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).”

More than 11,500 moms participated in the U.K. based study and were surveyed when their babies were 9 months old and again when they were older. They were asked to report their alcohol consumption patterns while pregnant and other information about their lifestyle, including smoking. The study conclusion, according to MedicineNet.com was: “Pregnant women who have up to two alcoholic drinks per week do not harm their children.”

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