Green Light to Drink During Pregnancy?

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Moms-to-be know that drinking during pregnancy is a big no-no, but what about the occasional glass of wine or fruity cocktail? A controversial study shows published Tuesday shows that light consumption of alcohol may not be harmful to the baby's physical, emotional, and cognitive development.

But not so fast! Many doctors worry that this announcement could be misinterpreted by pregnant women as a go-ahead to drink whenever they please. "You can walk on a railroad track and not be hit by a train, but that doesn't mean it's a safe thing to do," said Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs with March of Dimes, and professor emeritus of Pediatrics at Columbia University. "I worry about this article because it could be over-interpreted, and over-interpreting data of this nature is probably dangerous."

It's always been doubtful that a small amount of alcohol will have harmful effects on a fetus, and this study is consistent with other findings that minimal consumption of alcohol will not scar your baby for life. "It does not justify heavy drinking," said Dr. Bruce Levin, professor and chair in the department of Biostatistics at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York. "But it does alleviate concerns that light drinking causes huge problems."

Thus far, the study, which includes data from more than 11,000 children born between September 2000 and January 2002, has found no significant differences in the behavioral and cognitive development of children whose mothers either abstained from alcohol or drank lightly while pregnant. However, the results only look at children until they are five years old so further research is needed to explore the effects in later childhood.

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