The Born in Bradford study has found that as many as one in ten babies born in Bradford, UK have a lower than expected birth-weight.
Researchers studied the alcohol habits of nearly 11,000 pregnant women across the city between 2007 and 2010. They found that alcohol consumption during pregnancy was rare amongst asian women, whereas more than 40% of white British women drank alcohol while pregnant.
A quarter of the women surveyed binge drank before pregnancy. This figure fell to 9% during the first trimester and 3.1% during the second trimester.
According to the research, drinking five units of alcohol (the amount classified by the authors as an episode of binge drinking) during the second trimester increased a woman’s risk of having a small baby by 68%. They found no relationship between binge drinking and premature birth, and no increased risk of babies being small for gestational age in women who drank low or moderate levels of alcohol during pregnancy.
Lead author, Dr Duncan Cooper, said: ‘Our research results will help inform public health messages, and help women make informed decisions before and during pregnancy.’
Professor John Wright, head of the study, added: ‘Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a contentious topic, but this research demonstrates a clear link between binge drinking during pregnancy and having a small baby’.