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Avoid Alcohol: In First Three months of Pregnancy!!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 Avoid Alcohol: In First Three months of Pregnancy!!

Recent article in the Telegraph (20 01 09) by rebecca smith highlighting the risk factors for women who drink alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy.

Conflicting information right away, from the point of view that women may drink at their usual rate for several weeks before they are made aware that they are indeed pregnant.

Moreover there has also been mixed advice and safe drinking levels whilst pregnant.

Notwithstanding, there are studies that strongly indicate that infants may suffer from IQ issues, slow in terms of mental development, experience behavioural problems and stunted growth, if a woman drinks heavily. However, there is no such evidence for women who drink just one or two drinks on occasions.

The study was carried out in Australia, it’s findings were that women who drank more than one or two drinks a day during the first three months and then stopped drinking later in the pregnancy were more likely to deliver preterm than women who did not drink at all or drank at low levels.

Women who drank ‘heavily’ in the first three months, defined as the equivalent of one bottle of wine over a week, or those who binged twice a week were twice as likely to deliver prematurely than those who drank at low levels.

For the purpose of clarity, some statistical data is required. A binge is classed as drinking about two 250ml glasses of wine on one occasion, (one standard drink is the equivalent of 10g of alcohol, about 100ml of wine). In the UK one unit of alcohol is defined as 8g of alcohol. A 250ml glass of wine would be three UK units but 2.5 Australian units.

Lead author of the research Colleen O’Leary from the University of Western Australia, said: “Our research shows pregnant women who drink more than one to two standard (Australian) drinks per occasion and more than six standard drinks per week increase their risk of having a premature baby, even if they stop drinking before the second trimester.

“The risk of preterm birth is highest for pregnant women who drank heavily or at binge levels meaning drinking more than seven standard drinks per week, or more than five drinks on any one occasion.”

Further studies are required from the perspective that the data gathered, reflects only a small amount of women and some of the findings did not reach statistical criteria.

The conductors of the report also state that 11 per cent of premature births could be attributed to drinking in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Smoking and drinking together increased the risks even further.

Advice from the UK suggests women should avoid alcohol, but if they do so, it’s best not to drink more than a couple of units per week.

In conclusion, Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for pregnancy research charity Tommy’s said: “More research needs to be done to ascertain the true extent of the risk posed by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. This is a controversial area with many conflicting results and recommendations about what is deemed a ’safe’ level of alcohol consumption. Whilst these results suggest that high levels of alcohol consumption do increase the risk of preterm delivery, it must be taken into consideration that there is widespread misunderstanding about what constitutes a small amount, i.e. 1-2 units of alcohol, so many women choose to drink no alcohol as this means no risk.”

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