Pregnancy Advice: To Drink Or Not To Drink? That Is The Question!

Pregnant Woman Reaching for Glass of Wine
Pregnant Woman Reaching for Glass of Wine

Would you be kind enough to spare a moment to take our quiz? It's about drinking alcohol in pregnancy and, to be honest, we're a bit confused and wondered if you were too.

It's a simple multiple choice, as follows:

Drinking in pregnancy is:

a) A good thing? or

b) A bad thing?

Easy, yes? Well, no! Because according to the latest round of research it's neither - and both.

Sorry to confuse you, but at least you're in good company – because, according to the conflicting information we've read this week, the scientists don't seem to know what the hell the answer is, either.

On the one hand, they say drinking even the occasional glass of wine during pregnancy could be harmful.

Then on the other, they say women who have an occasional drink during pregnancy have children who are better adjusted and better behaved than the offspring of those who abstain.

Got that? Clear as mud, isn't it?

The view of the NHS is that mums-to-be should avoid alcohol altogether.

But researchers in Denmark found that children of women who drank up to a bottle of wine a month while pregnant were emotionally better off by the time they reached the age of seven than children whose mothers had stayed teetotal.

However, even the authors don't believe their own findings, saying their research should not be taken as an invitation to drink during pregnancy.

They said the difference was probably due to other factors in the child's upbringing or mother's lifestyle, rather than the effect of her occasional tipple, they said.

Janni Niclasen, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen, analysed results from a long-term study of more than 100,000 pregnant Danes who were asked about their drinking habits.

She said: "My study shows, among other things, that the children of mothers who drank small quantities of alcohol - 90 units or more - during their pregnancies show significantly better emotional and behavioural outcomes at age seven compared to children of mothers who did not drink at all.

"At first sight this makes no sense, since alcohol during pregnancy is not seen as beneficial to child behaviour.

"But when you look at the lifestyle of the mothers, you find an explanation.

"Mothers who drank 90 units or more of alcohol turn out to be the most well-educated and [have the] healthiest lifestyle overall."

Ninety units of alcohol is the equivalent of a glass of wine a week, or a bottle a month.

Ms Niclasen also warned that psychological factors likely to have an impact on children, such as attachment and intelligence, were not included in the study.

Neither did the survey look at what happened to the children of women who drank more immoderately.

She said that 'this is not an invitation to pregnant women to drink alcohol'.

Perhaps the best - or certainly the least ambivalent - advice comes from the Royal College of Midwives.

Its professional policy adviser, Janet Fyle, said that reviews of the evidence had repeatedly concluded that alcohol was harmful during pregnancy.

She said: "We get well adjusted children by paying attention to them when they are young.

"You don't get well-adjusted children by drinking alcohol during pregnancy."

So that's that, then. Until the next round of research!