Drinking in early pregnancy may increase risk of premature birth, doctors say

A recent study of  4,719 women in Australia  has warned that  women who drink heavily early in pregnancy, possibly before they know they even know they are pregnant, may be increasing their risk of having a premature birth.

The study found the risk of premature delivery was 80% higher for women who drank heavily in the first third of pregnancy, then stopped.

Experts however warned that it was possible that these results were a “statistical quirk”.

The Study was published in the BJOG on 21/1/09 and has received extensive press coverage

Click here to visit BJOG archive

The BJOG journal study found no evidence of problems for women who drank low levels throughout pregnancy.

The subject of alcohol and pregnancy has been controversial over recent years, with most guidelines now advising no alcohol , while other specialists believe that drinking small amounts is unlikely to harm the developing child.

This latest Australian study suggests that the period during which binge or heavy drinking has the greatest effect is during the first trimester.

Click here to read more at bbc online