Page last updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Light drinking in pregnancy offers little harm to unborn children
Research led by Dr Yvonne Kelly at University College London suggests that light drinking by pregnant mothers does not increase the risk of behavioural difficulties or cognitive deficits. The study found that boys born to light drinkers get higher scores in vocabulary tests. Girls are also thought to benefit, with researchers finding those born to light drinkers are less likely to have emotional and peer interaction problems.

Dr Yvonne Kelly stated that, for some behavioural outcomes, children born to light drinkers were “less likely” to have problems compared to children of mothers who drank nothing at all. However, Dr Kelly conceded that her findings might be because light drinkers tend to be more socially advantaged than abstainers, but she added: “It may also be that light drinking mothers tend to be more relaxed themselves and this contributes to better behavioural and cognitive outcomes.”

Researchers examined data on 12,495 three-year-olds, looking at the mothers’ drinking patterns during pregnancy and assessments of the behaviour and mental skills of their children. They defined light drinkers as those who consume 1-2 units per week or per occasion.

Source: Light drinking in pregnancy, a risk for behavioural problems and cognitive deficits at 3 years of age? Yvonne Kelly, Amanda Sacker, Ron Gray, John Kelly, Dieter Wolke, and Maria A Quigley. Int. J. Epidemiol., Advance Access published on October 30, 2008; doi: doi:10.1093/ije/dyn230

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