Date: 12 September 2017
Few studies have investigated whether drinking small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy affects the baby’s development, according to University of Bristol research supported by the NIHR.
The systematic review, published in BMJ Open, investigated the effects of drinking 1 or 2 units of alcohol, equivalent to a pint of beer or a medium size glass of white wine, once a week during pregnancy.
The authors found 24 studies and pooled their data to see whether drinking small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy affected the baby.
Combining the results of seven of these studies showed that drinking a small amount during pregnancy increased the risk of having a small baby by 8%, with estimates ranging between a 2% and a 14% increase.
Analysing the results from nine studies found no clear effect of light drinking on whether the baby was born prematurely.
The authors conclude that there is a "surprisingly limited" number of studies specifically addressing light alcohol consumption during pregnancy. However, given that there was some evidence that light prenatal drinking could affect the baby, guidance could advise abstention as a precautionary principle but should explain the lack of research.
This research was supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (CLAHRC West) and UK Medical Research Council.
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