Alcohol and pregnancy – is one glass safe?
Research recently gathered suggests that children who are born to mothers who drink one small glass of wine a week during pregnancy could be less likely to suffer from cognitive complications. Though drinking during pregnancy has always been discouraged, the study has found that light drinking is not actually connected to adverse behavioural problems in early childhood. The study involved more than 10,000 seven year olds, who were tested for cognitive responses and were then analysed in conjunction with interviews and questionnaires carried out by their teachers and parents, based on their social and emotional behaviour. Researchers found that women who drank two units or less a week of alcohol had children who were less likely to suffer from behavioural difficulties, compared to women who abstained. The children were also likely to score higher in reading, maths and spatial skills tests.
When researchers tested with potential confounding factors, however, they found that the results for the majority of cases didn’t prove to be significant. They found that there are increased chances of children being born with favourable developmental profiles for mothers who drink lightly, over those who don’t drink at all during their pregnancy. There was no noticeable risk or negative impact from low consumption on these areas of the child’s development.
The results of the study suggest that low level drinking is fairly safe with regards to the cognitive elements of development, but more in-depth study needs to take place in order to analyse the influence of a child’s environment on their intellectual development. The study involved analysis for the first seven years of the child’s life, but further research will need to take place to see whether the effects of the alcohol consumption occur later in life. Doctors still advise that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol altogether, but if they do opt to drink they should limit it to a maximum of two units a week.
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