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Drinking Whilst Pregnant: Weakens Bond With Infant

Monday, April 27th, 2009 Drinking Whilst Pregnant: Weakens Bond With Infant

Fiona Macrae of the Mail (21 04 09) writes an interesting article surrounding the issues of drinking whilst pregnant and its negative effects. Her headline reads ‘Women who drink during pregnancy ‘could have a weaker bond with child’.

This is a valuable report that women planning or pregnant at this point of time should read.

Scientists have discovered that women who drink in pregnancy find it harder to bond with their babies. Furthermore, even the occasional glass of wine may affect the mother-to-be’s attachment to the baby.

In addition, it has also been established that one of the first studies into the impact of alcohol on the health of a mother rather than her child, researchers also revealed that those who continued to drink while pregnant took longer to recover after giving birth.

Psychologists from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen carried out a study on 130 women from the midpoint of their pregnancy to three months after birth.

Significantly their research found that a third drank during pregnancy. Just under half of them got through a unit or two - with each unit equivalent to half a pint of beer or a glass of wine - no more than once a month.

A similar number had one or two units up to once a week, while a small minority drank two or three times a week.

Their findings were that compared to those who abstained, they found it harder to bond with their newborns. This held true even when any depression, anxiety and stress were taken into account, the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Brighton heard.

Indeed, Eilidh Duncan, a researcher has stated that women may find it more difficult to establish a bond as their babies were more badly behaved.

Eilidh Duncan, goes on to say that ‘the women in this study were drinking in fairly low levels, they were not problem drinkers or alcoholics by any means, but they were staying in hospital significantly longer. If you extrapolate it, it could be costing the NHS a significant amount of money.

‘The focus has generally been on the babies so it is surprising to see these effects on the mothers.’ Thus one can deduce that there are significant economic determinants that require consideration.

Moreover, Dr Katrina Forbes- McKay, of Robert Gordon University, said: ‘This research confirms drinking even small amounts during pregnancy has negative outcomes for women.

‘Alcohol use not only lengthens the mother’s stay in hospital, but can be directly associated with lower levels of mother-child bonding.’

Though it is fair to say that there are very mixed messages on the issues of alcohol units per week.

More specifically, some doctors claim even very small amounts of alcohol can damage the unborn child, possibly leading to foetal alcohol syndrome, which affects around 100 babies a year and causes low birth weight, flattened features, heart and kidney abnormalities, deafness and brain damage.

Others describe recommendations to abstain as draconian.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy. It says those who do drink should not have more than four units a week.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also advises no more than one to two units, no more than once or twice a week.

The Department of Health recently toughened its guidance and now advises expectant mothers to abstain from alcohol.

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