Light Drinking during Pregnancy not Linked to Behavioral Problems in Kids

First Posted: Apr 17, 2013 05:56 AM EDT

The debate regarding the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is never-ending. Drinking alcohol causes physical and mental birth defects, but occasional drinking during pregnancy is safe. Adding to this debate, a latest study states that light drinking during pregnancy does not cause any adverse behavioral or cognitive outcomes in childhood.

The study, published in BJOG: an international journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was based on data collected from the Millennium cohort study. The study focused on 10,534 infants born between 2000 and 2002 in the U.K. Researchers examined whether light drinking during pregnancy was associated with unfavorable developmental outcomes in 7-year-old children.  

Till date, no study has focused on low-level consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and its effect on children.

Reseachers at University College London collected details of children from home visit interviews and questionnaires that were completed by their parents and teachers, because they easily identified the social and emotional behavior in kids.  Apart from this, they also tested the kids' cognitive performance in maths, reading and spatial skills.

The study had four groups: those mothers who never consumed alcohol consisted of 12.7 percent, and those who didn't drink during pregnancy and others who did consume alcohol made up to 57.1 percent of the group, nearly 23.1 percent were those who were light drinkers and 7.2 percent drank more during pregnancy.

Those kids who were born to light drinkers had lower behavioral difficulties when compared to those who were born to mothers who didn't drink during pregnancy.

Professor Yvonne Kelly, co-director, ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies (ICLS) at University College London, and co-author of the study said in a press statement, "There appears to be no increased risk of negative impacts of light drinking in pregnancy on behavioural or cognitive development in 7-year-old children. We need to understand more about how children's environments influence their behavioural and intellectual development."

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