A just published group of studies puts a hard-lined pregnancy rule to the test -– researchers in Denmark found that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol during pregnancy does not effect kids 5 and under.
The papers, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, focused on the kids' IQ, attention span and executive functions at 5 years of age. More than 1,000 children were tested in a 3-hour assessment and those whose mothers drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol (up to eight drinks per week) during pregnancy did not have a higher risk of problems in any category than those of kids whose moms consumed zero drinks. Nine or more drinks, however, was associated with lower attention span among the children tested.
Because their data was only short-term, the authors still conclude that abstaining from alcohol is the safest bet during pregnancy. John Thorp, BJOG Deputy-Editor-in-Chief wrote, “More research is needed to look at long term effects of alcohol consumption on children.”
Jena Pincott, author of "Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy,” explains that while one might be hard-pressed to find a study that proves harm in the occasional drink during pregnancy, there are several factors to be considered when determining how much drinking is actually safe. Among them, “Genetics (some of us have more efficient alcohol-metabolizing genes) and diet (nutritious foods inhibit/neutralize harmful effects of alcohol),” Pincott told The Huffington Post. "Abstinence is a clearer, easier message," she said.
Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at Zucker Hillside Hospital agrees. He warns that the findings can send a dangerous message to pregnant women. "Those suffering from alcoholism may attempt to rationalize that it is safe to drink moderately, something they may ultimately be unable to do," Goldman said in a statement.
While a number of studies indicate that moderate drinking doesn't hinder a child's cognitive development, MSNBC points out that others conclude that drinking the same amount does raise the risk of miscarriage. And, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not changed its recommendation that pregnant women should abstain from alcohol completely.
Besides alcohol, pregnant woman are handed quite the laundry list of things to steer clear of for nine months. Below 6 pregnancy taboos that actually are OK in moderation:
Only <em>some</em>Sushi is off limits -- Sushi with cooked fish actually benefits the baby. According to <a href="http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/sushimercury.htm" target="_hplink">Americanpregnancy.org</a>, "most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby."
Caffeine is known to increase a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. But, the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20100721/moderate-coffee-drinking-ok-in-pregnancy" target="_hplink">ACOG found that</a> a minimal amount -- less than 200 milligrams a day -- is safe.
High levels of mercury (found in fish)<a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/is-tuna-safe-during-pregnancy/" target="_hplink"> can harm a baby's nervous system</a>. But, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jena-pincott" target="_hplink">Jena Pincott</a> says that pregnant women craving their favorite fish can have up to 6oz a week.
Cold Cuts And Deli Meat
There's a risk that deli meats contain harmful bacteria, but according to <a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/safe-pregnancy-eating/?page=2" target="_hplink">Parents Magazine</a>, pregnant women can eat it heated up -- either steaming or very warm.
Pregnant women are prone to heartburn after eating spicy foods, but they <a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/safe-pregnancy-eating/?page=2" target="_hplink">won't harm the baby.</a>
Raw Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and veggies may contain bacteria, but<a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-nutrition/PR00109/NSECTIONGROUP=2" target="_hplink"> according to Mayo Clinic</a>, as long as they're thoroughly washed and damaged portions are cut away, they are safe to eat.