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
Just come across this newly launched campaign from Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS). There has been a lot in the news recently about what are safe levels of alcohol in pregnancy. Here is soem information form AFS about the campaign.
As more research is published about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, Alcohol Focus Scotland launches a new campaign – ‘Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix’.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the ‘avoid alcohol when pregnant’ message among women who are pregnant, are thinking of trying for a baby, and among the wider population who may encourage women to have a drink without understanding the possible harm.
We are concerned that women have been given conflicting advice about whether or not drinking alcohol during pregnancy will cause harm to their developing baby. There is proven risk that heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) however the exact level for risky consumption is unknown. What we do know is that the risk of damage increases the more alcohol is consumed and that binge drinking is especially harmful. This means that no alcohol is the best and safest choice. This is also the advice given by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer and the British Medical Association.
Click here to visit Alcohol Focus Scotland
Current UK guidelines recommend that women limit their intake to two or three units a day. You shouldn’t save up units through the week and use them to binge at the weekend, and at least one day a week should be alcohol-free.
Strength and units
One unit is 8 grams, or about 10ml, of pure alcohol – regardless of how diluted it is. Below is a list of some common drinks and how many units they have in them.
One pint of strong lager (alcohol 5% vol) = 3 units
One pint of standard strength lager (alcohol 3 – 3.5% vol) = 2 units
One 275ml bottle of an alcopop (alcohol 5.5% vol) = 1.5 units
One standard (175ml) glass of wine (alcohol 12% vol) = 2 units
One measure (25ml) of a spirit strength drink = 1 unit
The recommended limits are lower for women than for men because the body composition of women has less water than men. So, even if a man and woman weigh the same and are of a similar size, the woman will tend to get drunk faster.
Some experts also think that women develop liver disease at lower levels of drinking than men, although this appears to only be the case in higher levels of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol & Pregnancy
Women who drink heavily during pregnancy are at risk of having babies with a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome. This can result in growth deficiencies, nervous system problems, lowered intelligence, and facial abnormalities in the child. It is also called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder – all the symptoms are not always present and can vary in how serious they are.
There is some evidence that pregnant women who drink 10 to 15 units a week are more likely to have underweight babies. It is not known if there is an absolutely safe limit for drinking during pregnancy, but research indicates that it may be wise to avoid alcohol altogether.