MINNEAPOLIS - A new Danish study on alcohol and pregnancy is getting some women's attention here in Minnesota.
The study published in the British Medical Journal says pregnant women may be able to have eight alcoholic beverages a week without harming their developing children, but doctors are quick to say abstaining is still the best practice.
Danish researchers evaluated the drinking habits of more than 1,600 pregnant women, then assessed their children's IQ when they were 5 years old.
They found children whose mothers had one to eight drinks a week did not perform worse on IQ and other brain function tests, when compared to children whose mothers didn't drink at all during pregnancy.
The Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has the same philosophies as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, stressing that no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, and MOFAS says the study undermines the harmful effects of alcohol on an unborn child.
"The only thing we know is that if you don't drink when you are pregnant your child will not have lifelong disabilities of FASD. It's 100 percent preventable. It's not curable once the damage is done, and it is done. So why take the risk?" said Emily Gunderson, of MOFAS.
MOFAS says the effects of fetal alcohol don't normally show up until those school age years. That was the case for an Apple Valley couple, who discovered their adopted son had FASD at 6 years old when a doctor recognized facial features indicative of FASD. He's now 14, and suffers from low IQ, short term memory loss, and aggressive behavior that has required extensive medical treatment.
"It is something that's very difficult. If alcohol had not been a player in his life, she would be able to do things on his own, be out on his own, go to college, things he still be able to do, but with help," said Angela Lipscomb. "Alcohol changes our children's' lives forever. It's not something that goes away."
Experts also say many other measures of development were not included in this study -- and the safest practice remains avoiding alcohol all together.
Doctors say this study could provide relief to women who drank alcohol before they knew they were pregnant, or those who have an occasional glass at a special occasion.
The study did find a link between high levels of drinking during pregnancy and lower attention spans in the 5 year old children.
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