Pregnancy and Drinking: A New Study

Talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption

pregnant woman holding wine glass

How much alcohol is safe for pregnant women?

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“We still don’t know that threshold,” says Cleveland Clinic OB/GYN Rebecca Starck, MD. She was asked by to comment on a study published by Danish researchers earlier this year.

The researchers published a series of papers in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology that cast doubt on the common advice to women that any amount of alcohol consumption must be eliminated during pregnancy.

The papers have data to suggest that drinking up to eight drinks per week early in pregnancy has no effect on intelligence, attention or self-control in children at age 5. The data also showed that high levels of drinking – nine or more drinks per week – was associated with lower attention span among 5 year olds.

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It is crucial to check with your OB/GYN or healthcare practitioner if you have any questions about the amount of alcohol you are drinking during any point in your pregnancy.

Heavier drinking does correlate with measurable negative effects.

“Heavy amounts of alcohol consumption do have adverse effects on the baby,” Dr. Starck said. She listed possible effects on the baby’s health including growth problems before or after birth, affects on skull or facial features and mental retardation.

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Dr. Starck told that reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicate that up to 12 percent of women consume alcohol during pregnancy, with up to 2 percent engaging in binge drinking. 

If you’re pregnant, be sure to talk to, and be honest with, your doctor about your alcohol consumption.

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