Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Today's NYT has an article about pregnancy and drinking, and the conflicted feelings it brings up in pregnant women. They do a good job of showing that there's really no information about the effects of moderate or light drinking on a developing fetus, but I'm surprised at the hard numbers that they didn't include. There are many who would suggest that ingesting any alcohol during pregnancy is unacceptably risky, but given that even amongst alcoholic mothers only 6% of births show signs of* display full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome, I have a hard time believing that the occasional glass of wine - especially later in pregnancy - is going to do a developing fetus much harm.

*UPDATE: The way I wrote this implied that only 6% of births result in children that have some form of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). There is a whole spectrum of problems in children of women who consumer alcohol while pregnant that while not meeting the definition of fetal alcohol syndrome, are still best avoided. These effects still don't show up in 100% of the children of alcoholic mothers (as I recall it's something like a third, but can't find a good link), but they have been known to show up in children of women who are not alcoholics.
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