New research published this week might make you think twice before picking up that glass of wine while you’re pregnant.
According to Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, no amount of alcohol at any point during pregnancy is safe, especially in the first trimester.
“The fact that we didn’t find a safe threshold is important,” said study author Christina Chambers, an associate professor of pediatrics and family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “Not every child of women who drink even very heavily has all the features, so there are certain susceptibility factors that we don’t know.”
The study is one of the first to “examine the impact of quantity, frequency and timing of alcohol exposure on the condition,” the authors say.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects 1% of the population, and can result in physical, mental, and behavioral problems. Babies born with the syndrome may have abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip, small head size, and shorter-than-average height.
The study monitored 992 women who were enrolled in the California Teratogen Information Service and Clinical Research Program between 1978 and 2005. Every three months during the their pregnancies, the women were asked about their use of alcohol and other substances. Information included specific data such as dates of use, number of drinks per day, number of binge episodes and maximum number of drinks.
After the babies were born, a dysmorphologist (a specialist in structural birth defects) looked for evidence of fetal alcohol syndrome and other conditions. The study found that for “every one-drink increase in the daily average number of drinks consumed during this stage of pregnancy, there was a 25 percent higher risk for having a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip; a 22 percent higher chance of having an abnormally thin upper lip; a 12 percent elevated risk of having a smaller-than-normal head; a 16 percent greater risk of reduced birth weight; and an 18 percent higher chance of reduced birth length,” according to USA Today.
It also found that a shorter birth length was associated with drinking in any trimester.
According to the authors:
Based on our findings, there is no safe threshold for alcohol consumption during pregnancy with respect to selected alcohol-related physical features. Women who are of childbearing age and who are contemplating or at risk of becoming pregnant should be encouraged to avoid drinking, and women who are pregnant should abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy
Do you/did you drink when you were pregnant? If so, did you deliver early?