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11 April 2011

Drinking during pregnancy risks premature birth

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. But there are conflicting reports about how much alcohol, if any, is safe for a pregnant woman to drink.

New research published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth looked at the amounts of alcohol women drank during their early pregnancy, and showed the effect this had on their babies.

While about a fifth of these women said that they never drank, 71% claimed to be occasional drinkers (up to 5 units a week). Within this low-alcohol group there was one case of foetal alcohol syndrome, so it is likely that some of the women were underestimating (or under reporting) the amount they drank.

In general, foetal alcohol syndrome occurred less frequently than expected in this study, suggesting that it is either not recognised by medical staff, or only becomes apparent after the mother and baby have left the hospital.

 
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