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Drinking While Pregnant: Is A Glass of Wine Also Forbidden?

No one doubts that pregnant women should not drink, but nevertheless we decided to study the topic and find out how dangerous it is to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Small doses of alcohol during pregnancy do not harm the fetus, an analysis of scientific papers for more than half a century has shown. However, scientists still recommend refraining from drinking - just in case.
Especially, if you had problems with alcohol before pregnancy, it’s better to call an addiction hotline number https://addictionresource.com/addiction-and-rehab-hotlines/

Recent studies

There was surprisingly little evidence of the dangers of moderate drinking during pregnancy, researchers from the University of Bristol found out after analyzing all available work on this topic since the 1950s. Based on them, it is impossible to draw unambiguous conclusions that alcohol should be discarded during pregnancy. 
The results were published on BMJ Open.
The official recommendations by the UK National Health Service for Pregnant Women say that "experts are still not sure which doses of alcohol can be considered completely safe during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to malformations of the baby: the more you drink, the higher this risk is."
Despite the recommendations, up to 80% of women in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand neglect them, the authors note.
About half of the pregnancies turn out to be unplanned, so sometimes, a woman drinks alcohol without even knowing that she is pregnant.
Evidence that alcohol abuse harms the fetus is sufficient: it increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, causes fetal alcohol syndrome in the child - a set of different deviations in the physical and mental development of the child, from growth retardation to facial anomalies and developmental delays.
But with moderate drinking, the situation is less clear.
According to the authors of the work, about a liter of beer or cider per week will not cause harm. 
As an analysis of 26 large studies on the effect of alcohol on fetal development showed, this amount of alcohol was correlated with an eight percent risk of having a slightly lower birth weight child compared to those who did not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. However, the difference in weight was only 2-14%. In addition, as the researchers note, such a correlation does not yet indicate a causal relationship.
"Although, perhaps, the use of small doses of alcohol is associated with the birth of smaller children, there are other explanations for this. And this is a problem for those who are responsible for health care recommendations. They need to not only recommend a specific line of behavior but also provide evidence demonstrating its benefits," explains Dr. Christoph Lees, a specialist in obstetrics at Imperial College London.
They also noted a possible connection with premature labor, but insufficient data was not enough.
In general, there is a tiny number of works compared to the course of pregnancy and the further development of the child in women who refused alcohol and allowed themselves a couple of drinks a week.
And the data obtained do not allow us to draw certain conclusions about the effect of small doses of alcohol on fetal development and the further state of the child.
However, the team emphasizes that this does not indicate the complete safety of alcohol. Researchers recommend that women still refrain from using it during pregnancy - just in case. "This study shows that, based on available data, it is impossible to say what a safe amount of alcohol is for a woman who is pregnant or is trying to conceive a child. My advice to women is that it's best not to drink at all during pregnancy and its planning. Regular alcohol consumption can be harmful, and it's better not to do this as a precaution," says Professor Russell Wiener of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health.
"Unlike reports of the dangers of smoking, which has enough evidence, words about the dangers of small doses of alcohol are perceived by pregnant women with a fair amount of skepticism," says Justine Roberts, CEO of a large online portal for parents. "Judging by what they write on our forum, they are quite realistic in their assessment of the consequences of drinking and do not see any reason to worry about how much they drank before they learned that they were pregnant."
For those who are worried about the amount of alcohol consumed before and during pregnancy, researchers recommend consulting a doctor or national addiction hotline.
The authors urge other researchers to do more research in this area to sort out the issue. Scientists do not rule out the possibility that moderate alcohol consumption may even be beneficial.

But what to do with the "vagaries"?

It is widely known that pregnant women want something strange - pickled cucumbers with ice cream, bacon with jam, chalk, or, for example, beer. It is generally accepted that in this way, the body "asks" for the nutrients and vitamins that are lacking for it and the fetus. 
However, as a study published in 2014 claims, in the vast majority of cases, these "vagaries" are more of a sociocultural than a medical phenomenon. Such strange desires are expected from a pregnant woman, and it is not surprising that they are manifested in women (moreover, pregnant women eat different things in different countries with appetite). The exception is picacism, the very desire to eat something completely inedible: chalk, earth, etc. Thus, micronutrient deficiency does manifest itself.
So what about the irresistible urge to drink alcohol? It is not so simple. Alcohol is addictive, but it is deeply rooted in our lives. Modern pregnant women continue to lead an active lifestyle - with holidays, guests, travel. In addition, alcohol often serves as a social connection, and women who are used to drinking a glass of beer to relax in the company feel uncomfortable without it. 
But an irresistible desire to drink is not connected with the needs of the pregnant body, but with the fact that a woman is deprived of her usual product, which is more or less addictive.

In conclusion

Research data confirms that drinking alcohol (even one that is considered moderate for non-pregnant women) can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage. But this may be not only due to alcohol but also to related factors.
As for the physical and mental health of the unborn child, studies do not connect the irregular consumption of a small amount of alcohol with the development of disorders of the fetal alcohol spectrum. But here, many factors come into play: the genetic characteristics of a woman's body that accelerate or slow down the metabolism of alcohol, her weight, liver function. It is impossible to take them all into account.

Indeed, it is best to abstain from alcohol before conception and throughout pregnancy completely. However, there is no evidence to suggest that drinking a really small amount of alcohol from time to time during pregnancy inevitably harms the baby. Every woman must decide for herself.

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