Low or moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been branded ‘safe’ by Danish health experts.

Scientists from the Aarhus University and University of Copenhagen claim that one to eight alcoholic drinks per week are not harmful to unborn babies and aren't linked to developmental problems in babies when they grow older, as was previously reported in a separate study.

alcohol pregnancy safe

The Danish study, published in the BJORG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology journal, questioned more than 1,600 pregnant women about their drinking habits during their pregnancy.

Low consumption was defined as being one to four drinks a week, moderate as five to eight and heavy drinking as being nine or more weekly drinks.

Quick Poll

Drinking In Pregnancy - Would You/ Did You?


Researchers statistically evaluated how drinking habits (ranked as low, moderate and high) during pregnancy affected childrens' IQs and attention span - five years after they were born.

It was previously reported that alcohol consumption during pregnancy caused developmental issues when children grow up.

However, the study’s results challenge this theory, as the results found no differences in IQ test results or neurodevelopment in children of mothers who drank during their pregnancy – even those who drank heavily (more than nine alcoholic drinks a week).


"High prenatal exposure to alcohol has consistently been associated with adverse effects on neurodevelopment,” study authors Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel and professor Erik Lykke Mortensen said in a statement.

"Areas such as intelligence, attention and executive functions have been found to be particularly vulnerable.

"Our findings show that low to moderate drinking is not associated with adverse effects on the children aged five."

According to the Department of Health, pregnant women should not touch alcohol during their pregnancy and if they do, no more than two units a week (the equivalent of one drink) should be consumed.

“Alcohol acts like a poison, as well as being addictive. Alcohol in a foetus has a toxic effect on developing cells and organs, especially in the brain, where it kills cells,” states a pregnancy health pamphlet available on the DOH website.

“When you drink, alcohol reaches your baby through the placenta. But the baby cannot process it as fast as you can, and is exposed to greater amounts of alcohol for longer than you are. And too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect the baby’s development.”

Take a look at the contradictions of alcohol - from friend to foe...

Loading Slideshow...
  • Red Wine: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

  • May Protect Against Breast Cancer

    In a study at the University of Calabria, Italy, the resveratrol compound was also found to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/09/30/red-wine-could-prevent-breast-cancer_n_988914.html" target="_hplink">block the cancer-fuelling effects of the female hormone oestrogen</a>, as well as inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells that have become hormone resistant.

  • A Glass A Day Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk

    In a conflicting study at Harvard University it was found that <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8862424/One-glass-of-wine-a-day-increases-risk-of-breast-cancer-research.html" target="_hplink">women who drink just four small glasses of wine a week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15%</a>, while those who drank up to four units a day were 50% more likely to develop breast cancer.

  • A <a href="http://www.ajcn.org/content/95/2/326.abstract" target="_hplink">recent study by Spanish researchers</a> found that the alcohol in red wine and the grapes themselves may both be beneficial for the heart. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/drinking-benefits_n_1233544.html" target="_hplink">The study analysed the levels of chemicals affecting inflammation and plaque on artery walls of 67 men after they drank red wine, red wine without alcohol, and gin</a>. When the man drank the alcoholic red wine and gin, levels of chemicals that reduce inflammation increased, and when the men drank the non-alcoholic red wine, levels of chemicals that reduce plaque increased.

  • No Proof A Glass A Day Is Good For The Heart

    A study by the Centre For Addiction And Mental Health, found that while there is a positive link between alcohol use and ischaemic heart disease, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/31/no-proof-a-glass-of-wine-a-day-is-good-for-the-heart_n_1243579.html?1328012457" target="_hplink">it cannot be assumed for all drinkers, even for those who have a limited intake</a>. Dr Juergen Rehm, director of social and epidemiological research at CAMH, said: "It's complicated. "We see substantial variation across studies, in particular for an average consumption of one to two drinks a day."

  • May Help Prevent Gum Disease

    Research at Quebec's Universite Laval in Canada, found that <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4782826.stm" target="_hplink">chemicals found in red wine called polyphenols can block production of free radical molecules, which can damage gum tissue</a>, it was reported by the BBC. However, dentists warn there are other risks associated with drinking wine, and people should not think it was good for their teeth.

  • May Lower Risk Of Dementia

    A study at the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen found that <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021112080015.htm" target="_hplink">people who drink wine weekly or monthly are two times less likely to develop dementia</a>. However, study author, Thomas Truelsen, MD, PhD, emphasised that "These results don't mean that people should start drinking wine or drink more wine than they usually do."

  • Helps To Fend Off Colds

    A year-long Spanish study or 4,000 volunteers found that <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1986514.stm" target="_hplink">drinking wine - especially red - can prevent people developing colds</a>. Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University said the results may be due to the antioxidant properties of red wine.

  • May Ward Off Lung Cancer

    Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compestela in Spain found that drinking red wine may help to ward off lung cancer. They found <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3959121.stm" target="_hplink">each glass a day reduced the risk of lung cancer by 13% compared to non-drinkers</a>. But Cancer Research UK case doubt on the findings, warning excess drinking increases the risk of other cancers, it was reported by the BBC.