Sunday, February 3, 2008

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Did you have a glass of wine when you were pregnant? This seems to be a hot button issue right now. ABC News ran an article on its website that is bringing up the debate. According to the

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you should NOT have a casual glass of wine while you're pregnant-no exceptions. However, some doctors say we're going too far with all the things we can't do when we have a growing fetus inside us. Why do doctors have differing opinions on this topic? Probably because there are no or very few studies looking at the effects of an occasional glass of wine, sushi, soft cheese and uncooked deli meat on pregnant women. Who would want to be the guinea pig in those studies? "Sure, I'll do something that could be potentially harmful to my baby for your study." I can't imagine a parent saying that.

According to the ACOG:

"When you are pregnant, the baby inside you is exposed to what is in your bloodstream. A little bit of alcohol may not affect you, but it may hurt your baby. Alcohol quickly reaches the fetus through your bloodstream. It crosses the placenta to the baby. In adults, the liver breaks down alcohol. Your baby's liver is not yet able to break down the alcohol. Thus, its effects are more harmful to the baby."

What can happen to your baby if you drink during your pregnancy?

  • Miscarriage

  • Preterm labor

  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) (small baby)

  • Heart Defects

  • Learning problems

  • Speech problems

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (short height, low weight, small head, abnormal facial features, club foot, heart defects, ear infections, vision problems, dental problems)

Will a couple of glasses of wine in your second or third trimester cause any of the effects listed above? Most doctors say probably not. But the thing is, they just don't know how much is too much. So some of them say a drink every once in awhile is fine. Others say absolutley no alcohol.

So what do you think? Did any of you or your wives have a glass of wine or a drink while pregnant?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Maria said...

I had a glass of champagne when I was about five months pregnant, and then when I was around my due date, my midwife told me to have a glass of wine and relax. I had a beer instead, but I was in Germany, and their take on pregnancy is not the same as in the US. Here, my doc scolded me for my weight gain. There, they told me I needed to gain that weight because I was small to begin with. Here they were super-uptight. There, as long as I was feeling good and not having problems, it was fine. Here everything needed to be between certain predefined guidelines with no variation. There things were more natural and flexible. I'm not sure I would have a baby in the US after experiencing Germany, and if I did, it would not be in a hospital unless there were complications during my pregnancy.

Jessica said...

Ive discussed this with my doctors for both my pregnancies and was told it is my decision as to have an occasional glass of wine, as there have been no studies that have shown it to be harmful in limited quantities. I normally will not drink a full glass of wine but a half a glass will do with dinner or on a special occasion. I am currently 8 months pregnant and plan to have some wine with my husband on Valentines Day. I think its entirely up to the woman whether she wants to have a drink. Just like anything you put in to your body moderation in key.

Knight in Dragonland said...

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, Jessica. That's the ostrich "head in the sand" approach to your health.

I think it was completely irresponsible and incredibly misleading of the obstetrician quoted in the ABC story to say "I've never seen a case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome."

One, he's an OBSTETRICIAN. Once the baby is out, he's done with them. He never sees them again. We pediatricians are the ones that deal with developmental issues.

Two, you literally have to drink alcohol like a fish to have full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome that's readily apparent at birth. Often the changes caused by alcohol are more subtle and can take years to diagnose.

There is a lot of debate about what's called Fetal Alcohol EFFECT. There have been numerous animal studies and several human studies linking light to moderate maternal alcohol use during pregnancy to developmental and behavioral problems later in life. The point is that there is evidence that alcohol can damage the fetus even if they don't develop the full-blown syndrome.

Is drinking one glass of wine on a few occasions going to hurt your baby? Probably not ... but we don't know that for sure. Why risk it?

I think this was a very irresponsible piece of work by ABC.

Knight in Dragonland said...

This site is an excellent resource regarding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the other Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

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