Published reports inaccurate concerning alcohol consumption during pregnancy

Dec 19, 2008

A national alcohol research group is concerned that the media's misinterpretation of a recent British research study could encourage pregnant women to be more at ease with temperate alcohol consumption.

Some media reports erroneously stated that the study by The University College London researchers revealed that light drinking by pregnant women could be beneficial to their babies. Other articles said light drinking during pregnancy would not affect the behavior or mental acuity of babies born to drinking mothers.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group, a subgroup of the Research Society on Alcoholism, says the conclusion of the study was not reported accurately. "Unfortunately, several media outlets misinterpreted this report to mean that drinking improved the children's outcome," the FASD Study Group said.

The published report looked at the drinking patterns of pregnant mothers of three-year-olds and assessed the behavior and cognitive skills of the children. The University College London researchers actually reported that the children born to women who drank lightly during pregnancy were not at increased risk compared with children of mothers who did not drink during pregnancy.

However, this result may be based on the higher socioeconomic status of the light drinking mothers and their children involved in this study. Higher socioeconomic status is well known to improve an infant's neurodevelopmental outcome. The study's authors, Dr. Yvonne Kelly at University College London and colleagues, suggested this explanation for their findings and the FASD Study Group agrees with that conclusion.

Many published reporters show that even moderate to light drinking can cause birth defects.

"Generally, the adverse effects of light drinking during pregnancy are subtle and may go undetected in children," said Feng Zhou, Ph.D., president of the FASD Study Group and a professor of anatomy, cell biology and neurobiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "Other alcohol research studies of moderate drinking during pregnancy have shown an adverse impact on multiple aspects of development through adolescence and young adulthood even when other important environmental factors are taken into account."

Dr. Zhou said the news reporters have been carried in various European and American publications and on news web sites.

"The media reports are alarming for a number of reasons but it is particularly disturbing at this time of year when holiday parties may make alcohol consumption more accessible and appealing to pregnant women who have read the erroneous reports," he said.

The consensus of public health providers and alcohol researchers is that even light drinking can interfere with biological processes critical in the development of the fetal brain, said Dr. Zhou and other Study Group officers, Cynthia J.M. Kane, Ph.D., vice president and professor of neurobiology and developmental sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Susan Smith, Ph.D., secretary and treasurer, and professor of nutritional science at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

For additional information compiled by the Study Group on the research into the effects on the children of mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy, see www.rsoa.org/fas.html .

Source: Indiana University

Explore further: Public health amicus brief argues in support of administration position in King v. Burwell

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nanoparticles for clean drinking water

Jan 16, 2015

One way of removing harmful nitrate from drinking water is to catalyse its conversion to nitrogen. This process suffers from the drawback that it often produces ammonia. By using palladium nanoparticles as ...

Researchers study nanogold's potential in biomedicine

Jan 13, 2015

Peng Zhang is excited about gold, and you should be too. In particular, he's excited about nanogold, structures of a handful of atoms measuring only a few nanometers in diameter. Zhang, a researcher at Dalhousie ...

Buzzed birds slur their songs, researchers find

Dec 30, 2014

You know how that guy at the karaoke bar singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " sounds a little off after he's had a few drinks? The same goes for buzzed birds, according to a team led by researchers from ...

New sensor improves quality check drinking water

Dec 01, 2014

University of Twente doctoral candidate Natalia Hoog has developed an online sensor which can be used to check the quality of the water in a water purification plant more accurately and more cheaply. Amongst ...

Drunk driving women treated differently than men

Sep 15, 2014

A study by Victoria University of Wellington's Health Services Research Centre explores attitudes and behaviours surrounding women and drink-driving, and the extent to which they have changed over the past decade.

Recommended for you

Scrapping the National Children's Study is a mistake

3 hours ago

Environmental health research has confirmed that chronic, low-level exposure to toxins in our environment – including our food, air and water – can have a significant impact on our health. We need to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.