Okay. Let’s just start here. And as this topic is a definite ‘close to home’ for me, I’m going to just start with the facts (even the vaguely understood ones) first.
Shocking Statistics About Drinking During Pregnancy
Is it ever safe to drink during pregnancy? Okay. Yes…. and no. The old wives tale about having a glass of wine every day isn’t exactly off. If you live a high stress life, have high blood pressure, or other health concerns that could be alleviated by reducing stress, it could be better for you and in turn your baby, if you have a very rare glass to de-stress. However, as far as modern science is concerned, there are still far too many unknowns about the possibilities or the likelihood that birth defects, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, can occur with a very low amount of alcohol consumption. Why don’t we know yet?? While we do have lab studies on animals to review, actually testing the effects on human subjects is considered far too dangerous to attempt.
The shocking part came in a recent study conducted by the CDC which researched pregnant women’s drinking habits. The results showed that one in ten pregnant women in the United States reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. More concerning is that one-third of those pregnant women who admitted to consuming alcohol said they binge drink. Binge drinking is currently defined as consuming four or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting.
The CDC used data collected by phone research from pregnant women ages 18 to 44 years old, all residents of the United States. Alcohol use was highest among older women, ages 35 to 44 years old, 18.6%. To give a comparison the study also found that one in two women who weren’t pregnant had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days while 18.2% participated in binge drinking.
Reality vs The Unknown
Here’s where it gets personal for me and if you have considered drinking while pregnant it might be important for you to hear this. I have 3 siblings and our mother drank with every single one of us during gestation. Drank in what would absolutely be considered binge drinking at times, at other times ‘just a beer or two’. There were even plenty of days where she didn’t drink at all. Still, it was a huge roll of the dice and what she ended up with was 2 children with Fetal alcohol syndrome, and 2 without.
The good news here is that the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are 100% avoidable. Just don’t risk it.
“We know that alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities in babies, as well as an increased risk of other pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and prematurity,” says Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “This is an important reminder that women should not drink any alcohol while pregnant. It’s just not worth the risk.”