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.
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.
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.”
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