AirTalk for January 7, 2014

Is a small amount of alcohol in pregnancy safe?

A pregnant woman poses on March 19, 2011

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

A pregnant woman poses in March 2011 in Ygos-Saint-Saturnin, south western France. A new study out of Denmark study out of Denmark actually concludes women who drank moderately, equaling about two drinks a week, had children with better mental health than those who abstained from alcohol completely.

Pregnant women are used to hearing the list of things they're not allowed to do for nine months. At the top of that list is usually drinking alcohol. Official recommendations in the US are that pregnant women should abstain from alcohol since no amount has proven to be safe. But is that really true?

A new study is adding to the evidence that some light drinking in pregnancy might not actually be harmful. This study out of Denmark actually concludes women who drank moderately, equalling about two drinks a week, had children with better mental health than those who abstained from alcohol completely.

Many physicians still don't see that as a pass for the occasional cocktail. There are several competing studies that say even small amounts of alcohol can be harmful. Studies are conclusive that heavy drinking during pregnancy can seriously damage a child's physical and mental health but will a glass of wine now and then cause any harm? With so much conflicting information, how can women know which information to trust? Is the US too cautious when it comes to pregnancy recommendations or is it better to not take the risk?

Guests:

Emily Oster, Economics professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Author of “Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong.”

Tom Donaldson, President of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 


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