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Is ingestion of any amount of alcohol safe during pregnancy?

All medical experts agree that pregnant women should avoid too much alcohol intake during pregnancy, but the question remains: how much alcohol is ok for a pregnant woman, if any?

This has been a controversial topic, and the latest research on this subject was just published March 10, 2014 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, where a group of British researchers concluded that women should not drink any alcohol at all during pregnancy.

The researchers, from the University of Leeds, found that women who drank even light amounts of alcohol—up to two drinks per week—around the time of conception and in the first trimester, had a significantly higher chance of delivering lower birth weight and pre-term babies compared with mothers who did not drink at all.

It was only relatively recently, in the 1970s, that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was first described. Doctors detailed a number of defects that occurred in some children born to mothers who drank significant amounts during their pregnancies, including: facial deformities, restricted growth, and learning and behavioral problems that extended until well after childhood.

The main problem is that during pregnancy, the developing baby’s brain and nervous system is in constant development, and is sensitive to damage from the alcohol. Alcohol crosses freely from the mother’s blood via the placenta to the baby, so basically if the mother is even slightly intoxicated, so is her baby, who is not prepared to handle this stress. The baby’s liver, which has to metabolize the alcohol, is not well formed until near the time of birth.

This latest study concluded that “women should be advised to abstain from alcohol when planning to conceive and throughout pregnancy”, but other studies have not been so dogmatic. The subject has been very controversial and some studies, even in the last year, suggested that small amounts of alcohol (up to a couple drinks per week), were acceptable.

This difference in the studies can be explained because different studies were conducted using different research methods, and often measuring different outcomes. For example, one study last year measured how well children were able to balance themselves (a measure of nervous system function), and the study from the University of Leeds looked at birth weight and pre-term delivery.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) recommends no drinking at all around the time a woman is trying to conceive and during the entire pregnancy. The National Health Service (Britain) consuls “avoid drinking alcohol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. If you choose to drink, protect your baby by not drinking more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week…Drinking isn’t just dangerous for the baby in the first three months: it can affect your baby throughout pregnancy.”

To protect the well-being of their children, women who are trying to conceive and who are pregnant should seriously think about this issue, and discuss it with their doctors.

Should you wish to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, use our main website: www.procuramed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

Breast-fed babies have higher IQs

Brazil said to have highest rate of Cesarean section births in the world

 

 

 

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)