Occasional Drink During Pregnancy OK, Study Says

CHICAGO (CBS) – Drinking alcohol has long been considered taboo for pregnant women. But, as CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports, new research says it may be OK to drink occasionally.

Julie Nowak enjoys a glass of wine with family and friends now and then. Even back when she was pregnant, she drank light amounts of alcohol.

“I certainly would never get to the point where I felt out of control or buzzed, or even silly,” Nowak said. “It was just more of a calming type thing.”

Nowak is the mother of two healthy children.

“I would have a half a glass to three-quarters of a glass of red wine every week, every other week, throughout the third trimester,” she said.

That was with her first pregnancy. During her second pregnancy, she had an occasional glass of wine starting around the six-month mark.

Dr. Lisa Oldham from Rush University Medical Center agrees that light amounts may be OK.

“A small amount of alcohol every so often during your pregnancy is very unlikely to create a problem for your unborn fetus,” Dr. Oldham said.

New research published last month by the “Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health” suggested that an occasional drink does not raise the risk of developmental problems in children.

Mothers of 11,000 children were asked about their drinking habits during pregnancy. The study found that babies born to light drinkers, who had five ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer a week, had no additional risk.

But raising a glass has some experts raising their concerns.

Dr. Larry Gray from Comer Children’s Hospital, University of Chicago said, “This data is not a green light for drinking during pregnancy.”

Dr. Gray treats children who had prenatal alcohol exposure and now suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He cautions that one glass of wine doesn’t have the same effect on all women.

“A mother’s metabolism of alcohol can vary widely, and so that really exposes the baby to more or less risk based on that one glass of alcohol,” he said.

April Leong is just a few weeks from her due date. She says it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I’m not craving it. I don’t need it,” Leong said.
For Julie Nowak, the new research gives her peace of mind.

“You feel a little bit better about it. And obviously you don’t want to see a drunk, pregnant woman, but in moderation, I think it’s fine,” Nowak said.

One doctor we spoke with said we would see a lot more Fetal Alcohol Syndrome if it really was a problem to drink very small, limited amounts of alcohol.

But, in this country, there is real concern about this issue and there is so much we don’t know. The best advice is to talk to your doctor.

  • Renee Doktorczyk

    As a mother of an adopted daughter that has been saddled with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome thanks to her biological mother’s choice of vodka over vitamins, I am begging all mothers everywhere to please refrain from drinking during pregnancy. My daughter started taking medication when she was four. She also has ADHD and learning disabilities. FAS is not easiliy diagnosed because it comes with many other secondary issues. Explaining to my daughter that even though her mother chose life for her by putting her up for adoption, yet didn’t care enough to be sure she did all she could to keep her child healthy is a conversation that I have had to have several times. How do you explain to a small child that her biological mother did not love her enough to be healthy for her. The risk is not worth the drink. Please, please don’t take that first drink. It is not worth it!!!

    • Greg


    • bj

      You tell your daugher that her biological mother didn’t love her? Wow, that sounds as unhealthy as getting drunk while pregnant.

      • Renee

        I have never told my daughter that her biological mother did not love her. However, she has been able to surmise that on her own. I told my daughter that my heartstrings were pulled half way around the world to her by God. I told my daughter that I don’t know the reason why her biological mother chose to drink. I told my daughter that I don’t know why her biological mother chose to leave her in the hospital. I think if that is the sentence you focused on that you missed the whole point of the article. I think you should educate yourself on the issue before leaving comments. I think you should try spending time with a child that has been affected by alocohol. When you do, come back and we will have an intelligent conversation.

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  • Kathleen

    It is entirely irresponsible to publish an article with a headline title such as this. There is in fact, no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnany. Women scanning article headlines without reading the full article may be misinformed and the ones who will pay for it will be their unborn children. If you can’t put a glass of wine down for 9 months, you probably shouldn’t be having a child either.

  • Jamie Sterritt

    I would appreciate more clarification, please. How much is too much to drink while pregnant. Since there are many kids with FASD fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, how much could the mothers have drank to have affected their children?

    • Renee

      It is different for every person, just as each person metabolize alcohol differently. The message is simple. Don’t drink during pregnancy.

  • Tammy Herstad

    AMEN…I too have and adopted son who has fetal alcohol syndrome. You can’t imagine the harm it does until you have to spend your life taking care of a person with this!

    I don’t understand why you guys are reporting such a damaging study.

  • kelly

    Obviously, vodka vs. vitamins is NOT what this article is refering to. Use some common sense people.

  • Lori G

    How many tens of thousands of families decimated by FASD, caused by drinking during pregnancy, need to reveal their painful experiences before someone listens? Don’t risk your baby’s brain—-nine months, ZERO alcohol!

  • Judy

    If you want to drink while you are pregnant, please come spend 24 hours with me and my adopted daughter who survives with FASD and you will NOT drink but instead be standing on roooftops elling to the word – DO NOT DRINK when you are preganant!!!

  • http://drugfreeil.wordpress.com drugfreeil

    It’s unfortunate that most people will only see the headline and see that as the green light to drink all they want while pregnant. For one person “occasional” may be one drink every few weeks, to another it may be every other day. What’s considered “a drink?” For some it’s 24 ounces, but technically a serving of wine is 5 oz! There was a similar report on another station showing a pregnant woman with a huge goblet of wine! It’s fine to make people aware, but the media have to do their homework better and provide much more detail than this when it is something that will impact a person’s life forever if their mother drinks too much while pregnant. CBS should follow-up!!!!

  • ashton

    Women should becareful, DCFS can take your baby if he or she is born with FASD. They consider it child neglect.

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