You may have heard otherwise at one point or another, but a leading group of pediatricians has released a new report warning that no amount of alcohol -- not even a small serving -- is safe to drink at any time during pregnancy.
In the report titled "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses that alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disabilities, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), can be prevented when expectant mothers abstain from drinking alcohol. The doctors also warn that there's no trimester in which drinking alcohol is safe and that all types of alcoholic beverages -- hard liquor, wine, and beer -- actually pose the same risks to the fetus. In other words, no alcohol, no exceptions.
"Prenatal alcohol exposure is a frequent cause of structural or functional effects on the brain, heart, bones and spine, kidneys, vision and hearing," the organization said in a press release. "It's associated with a higher incidence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and specific learning disabilities such as difficulties with mathematics and language, visual-spatial functioning, impaired impulse control, information processing, memory skills, problem solving, abstract reasoning and auditory comprehension."
Specifically, compared to no drinking, mothers who consume alcohol in the first trimester increase the odds of giving birth to a child with FASDs by a factor of 12. Further, mothers who drink during the first and second trimesters increase the the odds of FASDs by a factor of 61, while mothers who drink all throughout the pregnancy increase the risk by a factor of 65, according to the report.
"The research suggests that the smartest choice for women who are pregnant is to just abstain from alcohol completely," Dr. Janet Williams, one of the report's lead authors, said in a statement.
This is all to say that mothers, no matter how tempted, shouldn't drink for that 9-month period of their lives. But just imagine how sweet that first sip of sauvignon blanc will be when you're finally able to after giving birth to a healthy child. It'll be all that much better.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and recommends tasty "mocktails." Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.