More Proof – If Pregnant, Don’t Drink

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on February 20, 2013 · 0 comments

We know that alcohol can damage an unborn baby but the question remains, how much alcohol is needed to cause harm and when is the risk greatest for the developing baby. For obvious ethical reasons, researchers cannot expose pregnant women to alcohol and wait to see the results.

But a group of researchers from the University of California did a look-back study on over 900 pregnancies in California between 1978 and 2005. They looked at how many drinks an expectant mother had daily, the number of binge drinking episodes that occurred, and the maximum number of drinks consumed.

Alcohol used reduced birth weight and length and caused a smaller head circumference. This created mild to severe developmental delays depending on when the mother drank during pregnancy and how much she drank. More subtle changes seen were a smooth area between the nose and upper lip which is generally grooved and a less sharp color contrast between the lips and adjacent skin.

Bottom line: Any drinking during pregnancy caused trouble. The strongest association between drinking and fetal development occurred in the second half of the first trimester.

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