Alcohol consumption during pregnancy carries risks

A new study on alcohol consumption during pregnancy confirms that drinking leads to births with poor cognitive functions and increases the risk of lower birth weight. The researchers claim that this is the first time that they have compared such results from a number of different studies. The recent study also found that websites financed by the alcohol industry routinely omit or misrepresent information about the risk.

Be careful with alcohol consumption during pregnancy

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For expectant parents, few problems have the ability to cause controversy. While women have been warned to avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy, some research has shown that small amounts of alcohol can be safe at this stage. However, new research has shown that the safest option for pregnant women is to avoid alcohol altogether. After analyzing 23 previously published studies, the researchers confirmed that alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to children with poorer cognitive functions and increases the risk of lower birth weight.

“We wanted to fully examine all evidence from different types of studies,” said Dr. Luisa Zuccolo, director of studies and lecturer in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School. “We also found that there were enough studies of different types for two endpoints, cognition and birth weight, that matched each other and indicated that alcohol had a harmful effect during pregnancy. It was not surprising. However, it adds another piece to the sample of evidence on this important public health issue. “

The analysis examined both traditional studies such as randomized controlled studies and alternative strategies. These compare the children in the same family, whose mothers reduced or increased alcohol consumption between pregnancies. According to researchers, misrepresenting the problem could lead women to continue drinking during pregnancy. The results suggest that institutions financed by the alcohol industry can increase the risk to pregnant women by spreading misinformation.

Possible effects of drinking

drinking in society during pregnancy involves risks

“Alcohol is a teratogen, which means that it causes abnormalities. The consumption of this affects the development of the brain, heart and facial features of the fetus and affects normal growth, “said Dr. Kecia Gaither. She explained that drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This is a condition characterized by the following symptoms:

  • neurological problems such as cognitive delay
  • Hearing problems
  • heart abnormalities
  • hyperactivity
  • Deformities on the face

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However, drinking is not the only risk factor. “Tobacco use in pregnancy is also associated with a number of problems for the fetus,” said Gaither. She explained that smoking creates carbon monoxide, which affects the normal oxygen supply to the fetus. “Babies from mothers who smoke additionally have an increased risk of SIDS (sudden child death) and pulmonary dysfunction.”

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