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Avoid all alcohol while pregnant

Avoid all alcohol while pregnant

New advice has been given for expectant mothers when it comes to alcohol: do not consume any. Not a drop. Nada.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has renewed its stance on pregnant women and alcohol. However over the years guidance has been confusing, with many subscribing to the philosophy that a little drink will not be harmful to the unborn baby.

Excessive drinking whilst pregnant has been associated with everything from facial deformities like a thin upper lip and small eyes, to more severe behaviour problems such as ADHD, impaired memory skills and problem solving difficulties. Together symptoms are known as foetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASD (the most severe of which is foetal alcohol syndrome).

“The real measure (of how safe alcohol is) is how much are you willing to compromise the potential health and wellbeing of this baby,” said Dr Janet Williams, lead author of the survey.

The research is set to be published in journal Pediatrics today (19Oct15), and looks at the fact that there are no known safe levels of drinking while pregnant. This grey area is why it's important not to indulge in any alcohol, says the study.

It's estimated that one in ten women drink while pregnant, which is defined as having one alcoholic beverage in 30 days, and one in 33 binge drink. College-educated, middle-aged women are the sector with the highest frequency of drinking while expecting.

Binge drinking is considered the most dangerous to unborn babies, but as it's not known how much alcohol is and isn't safe to consume, experts says it's best to just steer clear.

“There’s been some controversy over this whole issue,” said paediatrics professor Dr Christina Chambers. “Women don’t want to be told to avoid alcohol entirely. (Women ask,) 'What’s the evidence that low levels of alcohol are harmful?’ and, ‘You’re just telling me don’t do this, don’t do that,’ and some obstetricians seem to be comfortable with women drinking at low levels during pregnancy.

“We really just don’t know a threshold below which it’s safe to drink, and trying to pick a number is not a safe thing to do."

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