- Researchers confirmed that drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to children with poorer cognitive functions and increases the risk of lower birth weight.
- Researchers say this is the first time results from a number of different study designs were compared relating to the effect of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- A recent study found that alcohol industry-funded websites routinely omit or misrepresent evidence on the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
For expectant parents, few issues have the ability to cause controversy like consuming alcohol while pregnant.
While women in the United States have been warned to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy, some research has found that small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy may be safe.
Now, new research finds that the safest option for pregnant women is to avoid alcohol all together.
After analyzing 23 previously published studies, researchers confirmed that drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to children with poorer cognitive functions and increases the risk of lower birth weight.
“We wanted to look at all of the evidence from different types of studies, in a comprehensive way,” Luisa Zuccolo, PhD, study lead and senior lecturer in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, told Healthline.
“We also found that for two outcomes, cognition and birth weight, there were enough studies of different type agreeing with each other, indicating a harmful effect of alcohol in pregnancy,” Zuccolo said. “This was not surprising, but it adds another piece to the jigsaw of evidence on this important public health question.”
The study was published Wednesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
First time different study designs were compared.
Researchers say this is the first time results from a number of different study designs were compared relating to the effect of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
“The trickiest thing in this field is to be able to have comparable groups of pregnant women, and children, who only differ by alcohol consumed during pregnancy — this is how we can tell if alcohol causes the outcomes, rather than just being correlated with them,” said Zuccolo.
The analysis looked at both traditional studies like randomized controlled trials (RCT) and alternative strategies that involved comparing children in the same family whose mothers reduced or increased alcohol consumption between pregnancies.
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