Bottoms Up, Pregnant Women!

Cristen Conger

Final verdict: one glass won't hurt a thing. © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation)

Pregnant women everywhere can knock back a pint without feeling an ounce of guilt, thanks to study findings published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (via Discovery News). Based on long-term research that followed 18,500 children from the moment they exited the womb through their first couple years, it's perfectly healthy to have a cocktail every now and then while pregnant. The word on drinking while pregnant has been somewhat murky until now, with healthcare providers shifty on whether or not that one glass of wine is really fine. For instance, the Mayo Clinic currently warns that "one drink isn't likely to hurt your baby, but no level of alcohol has been proved safe during pregnancy."

But according to Fred Bookstein, an applied statistician and fetal alcohol expert familiar with the research, the study's conclusion is so rock-solid, there's no need to study the effects of low-dose alcohol use in pregnant women any further. He told Discovery News:

"It is no longer valid to argue that we don't know enough about low-dose drinking during pregnancy or that the known effects of binge drinking may penetrate to low-dose drinkers somehow. There is no detectable risk associated with light or moderate drinking during pregnancy."

Of course, binge drinking remains off the table for pregnant women, but the study also noted that having a drink here and there could be better than fully abstaining. Not only did boys whose mothers sipped on one or two drinks a week have a developmental edge, children of teetotalers performed almost as poorly on intelligence tests as children of binge drinkers. The researchers emphasize that alcohol doesn't necessarily benefit babies, but rather might offer expecting moms a little relaxation during the taxing nine months. Lower maternal stress, perhaps in the form of a glass of pinot, translates to healthier babies.

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