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Even Special Occasion Drinking During Pregnancy May Cause Harm, Study Shows

pregnant and drinking wine

There has been much debate on the topic of drinking alcohol while pregnant and what, if any amount, is safe to consume. Many pregnant women choose to abstain completely while pregnant, while others feel that the occasional glass of wine, beer or even hard alcohol is safe. A new study is showing that even the rare glass or two of wine on a special occasion while pregnant can be harmful to the fetus.

Research published in the Journal of Physiology found that rats who consumed small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy could develop insulin-resistance which could increase the chance of getting diabetes in male rat offspring, Science Daily reports. The study only gave the pregnant rats small doses of alcohol on two days during their pregnancy, meant to mimic the social drinking of pregnant women where they may feel pressured to imbibe. The male offspring of the rats exposed to the alcohol showed signs of developing diabetes at around 6 months of age.

The study did point out that the insulin-resistance only seemed to occur in male offspring, because " the placenta adapts to prenatal stress differently depending on if it's a male or female fetus, and this can impact on fetal growth and development."

Woman covering her moth after drinking cola
Credit: iStock

“Even a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful, so if you’re planning on getting pregnant don’t drink," commented senior study author Lisa Akison a University of Queensland researcher. "Families, partners, and friends should support a woman’s choice not to drink alcohol during pregnancy. If a woman accidentally becomes pregnant and unknowingly drinks alcohol during the first part of their pregnancy, the important thing once they know is to stop drinking, have a good diet and take care of themselves throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.”

There is a lot of conflicting information that women receive regarding drinking while pregnant. While many are told to abstain completely, some obstetricians will advise their patients that the occasional glass is harmless after the first trimester. Others point to European countries where drinking during pregnancy is quite commonplace in suggesting that the odd glass of wine is ok. According to the CDC, "There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she’s pregnant. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer."

Did you drink during your pregnancy or abstain completely? Did you ever feel pressured to have a drink, especially on special occasions?

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