14/08/2014 16:52 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Controversial Parenting Author Says Pregnant Women Can Drink Wine And Coffee

Parenting author says women can drink wine and coffee when expecting

The author of a new book on parenting claims that mums-to-be can safely drink alcohol and coffee and dye their hair.

Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better, says she wants to dispel 'motherhood myths' and persuade women to have a more relaxed approach to pregnancy.

She says that drinking a glass of wine a day is fine, and that plenty of coffee won't harm the baby. She also asserts that gaining too little weight during pregnancy is far more worrying than gaining too much.

Oster, who is a Harvard-educated associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago told the Daily Mail that food restrictions suggested to pregnant women were 'overblown' and that drinking alcohol while expecting does not affect the IQ or behaviour of the child.

She said she had written her book to 'simply to show women the evidence and let them decide for themselves'.

Oster said she was compelled to write the book after being advised to stop drinking her usual four cups of coffee a day when she was pregnant three years ago.

Frustrated by 'one long list of rules', she carried out some research and concluded that linking coffee consumption to higher rates of miscarriage was flawed.

She also examined a study on the effects of drinking during pregnancy and found a report in the journal Pediatrics which claimed that just one drink a day was enough to put unborn children at risk of behavioural problems was not accurate.

She said that their research did not take into account that 18 per cent of the women studied didn't drink at all and 45 per cent of those who enjoyed a daily drink also took cocaine.

Oster claims that women should feel comfortable with having one or two drinks a week during the first three months of their pregnancy, and up to one a day after that.

She also found that it was safe for mums to dye their hair, and that there was little evidence that exercise had any benefits - although it was safe.

The only thing she doesn't' recommend? Gardening - because of the risk of exposure to a toxoplasmosis parasite living in the soil.

Despite her Oster's assertions, a Department of Health spokesman told the Mail: 'Drinking during pregnancy can be associated with miscarriage, foetal alcohol syndrome and low birth weight.'

More on Parentdish: Pregnancy health and advice