A bun in the oven and wine in the glass

Picture this: a guy sitting around a table with three pregnant women having drinks. That was the scene recounted to me once by an internist about his wife, an obstetrician, and two of her OB/GYN colleagues while they attended a medical convention. He told me that the doctors considered drinking in moderation was safe. They just couldn’t really tell patients that because some would abuse it and, of course, liability concerns.

This perspective on drinking while pregnant got some recent validation. The researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark collected data from 1,600 pregnant women and their babies up to five years old. Their studies indicate that drinking one to eight (!) servings of alcohol a week during pregnancy, even in the early stages, showed no IQ differences in the children than group of mothers who abstained from alcohol. Even binge drinking didn’t have an impact, surprisingly. The babies from mothers who consumed over nine drinks a week showed lower attention spans.

Pregnancy is a tricky thing and many women would want to err on the side of caution; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which partially funded the studies, still recommends that Americans abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Even French wine labels now bear an image warning against drinking while pregnant. But I guess everything worked out okay for Rachel Weisz, who spoke out for moderate drinking during her pregnancy and sparked an uproar, especially now that she’s Mrs. Daniel Craig!

Knocked up: expecting moms and defying expectations

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17 Responses to “A bun in the oven and wine in the glass”

  1. Uh, define ‘serving of alcohol,’ please.

  2. One of the things that studies such as these tell us is that everything is not black or white. But for liability concerns, etc, the medical community must say that ‘no drinking while pregnant’ is the only safe option. At the same time, if a pregnant woman wants to have a glass of wine it is advisable that she do that at home to avoid the “judgy judgy” types.

  3. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but I’d stay away from the alcohol. Maybe a glass of champagne on my birthday.

  4. Hi Bill – Here’s the third graf of the story linked to above:

    “In Denmark a standard drink has 12g of alcohol, compared with the UK’s 7.9g.”

    Also, here’s more from BJOG.org

  5. I’m all about getting your drink on, but this borders on recklessness. “A drink a day, and your baby will be ok” isn’t a message I’m terribly comfortable with. I also find it a bit odd that in the sample of 1600 children, not one of them was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effect.

    Nannette Eaton

  6. While I love a glass of wine, if I were pregnant I would have to err on the side of caution and abstain from drinking. It’s just not worth the risk.

  7. Hey Tyler shoudl read the latest article in World of Fine Wine argh cant remember what its called but has a lil blurp on wine n pregnancy.

    I don’t see how one glass of wine is gonna cause problem on a child—Let alone having one sip!

  8. my girlfriend is a midwife. she says that there is evidence that 5 drinks per day is dangerous to your baby. any less is inconclusive.

    while some people are of the opinion that any alcohol consumption during pregnancy is dangerous, western medicine is based on science, which does not reach the same conclusion.

    of course, if you want to be extra cautious, you should avoid all alcohol, fish, cheese, and most of all, avoid driving in cars, which cause thousands of deaths per year.

  9. Wine Harlots (or Nannette)- All of the CDC studies on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and/or Effect have shown that the problem is in heavy drinking over numerous pregnancies. A fifth of Jack Daniels a day and you get FAE in the 3rd or 4th pregnancy and FAS in the 4th, 5th or 6th pregnancy. Consider that before 1985 or so, it was ok to drink during pregnancy and that for most women alcohol was nauseating during the first trimester when most of the brain functions are being formed. Or as my mother says, “It’s a good thing I drank while pregnant- what would the world have done with 3 more Einsteins?”

    I am not trying to make light of this but,once again, we are making this an black/white situation when it is gray. I am still deeply offended by the overweight cigar smoker who found it necessary to comment on me having a glass of wine at a restaurant when I was 7 months pregnant. Actually, I had 2 that night. And a better part of a bottle of champagne this June when that baby graduated from Princeton magna cum laude- although, if I hadn’t had those 2 glasses of wine, would she have been summa cum laude?

  10. Late in her two pregnancies, my wife had a glass of wine with dinner on rare occasions. At first I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but most of the research seems to support the idea that light drinking is fine late in pregnancy.

    I know this is purely anecdotal and not scientific at all, but we have two perfectly healthy boys.

    I’m no doctor, but I believe a healthy liver metabolizes about one drink per hour. If you’re sipping on a glass of wine with dinner, I doubt much if any alcohol will even get to your bloodstream.

  11. My wife drank a glass here and there throughout 3 pregnancies. I thought it was much deserved after incredibly long days!

  12. Unfortunately the devil is in the details. Statistics is one thing, the individual is another. Until we can know though DNA who is and is not at risk, prudence dictates the safest approach.
    It’s probably Ok to smell the bouquet of a fine claret: boosts the endorphins.

  13. Thank you, Dr. Vino! It seems America is an all-or-nothing sort or country, so I get why doctors counsel against drinking while pregnant. What I don’t get is the judging by the public that goes on for women who enjoy wine occasionally while pregnant. It’s certainly healthier than many foods, including soda, fast food, french fries, anything from the frozen section at your grocery…And of course, to worry about pesticides in the produce you buy at the store never comes up. I’d rather my baby-to-be gets tannins than High Fructose Corn Syrup OR trans fats OR chemically-processed foods, thank you!
    P.S. I am not pregnant, nor have I been in past.

  14. I wonder in the study if there were different groups consuming different kinds of alcohol or if it was one alcohol across the board?

    Would it be better to have a glass of wine diluted with a little water (no water?), a beer, a hard cider from normandy, a drink that’s one part absinthe to 3 to 5 parts water?

    different drinks, like I would imagine different foods, could possibly affect development differently. Just a thought, no scientific basis.

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  16. I know this is a slightly warped reasoning for abstaining from alcohol but here goes.

    Wife and I ran into this issue this past year while she was pregnant and hearing all of her friends say that it is ok. After taking time to think about it, we can to the conclusion that if we would never give our newborn (or 1 -2 year old) a sip or drink of wine so why should she drink while pregnant.

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