Experts have found little proof to support the fact that light drinking during pregnancy causes harm to the baby.
Dr Luisa Zuccolo and 26 of her colleagues carried out this study at the University of Bristol, where they analysed studies from the 1950s onwards.
The team failed to find research to prove that there was a link between minimal alcohol consumption and dangers to the baby.
The researchers have stated that even though they found no link, they highly advise avoiding alcohol throughout pregnancy.
The official guidelines state that a woman should never consume alcohol when she is pregnant. However, many women drink before they discover that they are pregnant, due to the increasing number of unplanned pregnancies.
The researchers hope their study will reassure women who are concerned about the alcohol they consumed when they were unaware of their pregnancy.
Professor David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge states that the new evidence, “should dispel any guilt and anxiety felt by women.”
The experts believe that drinking two to four units of alcohol a week shouldn’t cause any harm to the baby. They did discover that there is a higher chance of your baby being smaller if you did consume alcohol.
According to Professor Spiegelhalter, the study has shown women, “that warnings about the dangers of drinking any alcohol at all during pregnancy are not justified by evidence.”
They remind women that drinking excessively can cause numerous complications during and after pregnancy.
Drinking heavily can cause miscarriages, premature birth and foetal alcohol syndrome. Foetal alcohol syndrome is a group of conditions that are caused when a mother drinks a lot of alcohol during pregnancy. Baby’s with foetal alcohol syndrome may be born with small heads, thin lips and an upturned nose.
Alcohol can affect a baby’s growth and development and can also cause learning difficulties that will affect them throughout their lifetime.
The HSE states that “the safest approach in pregnancy is to choose not to drink at all.”
It is important for mothers to remember that the alcohol they consume is also consumed by their baby, and binge drinking is the most harmful.
They reassure mothers that, “a single episode of binge drinking is less likely to harm the baby.”
Cutting out alcohol during pregnancy is the best step to make, regardless of the little evidence researchers found during this study.
The HSE advises women to make healthier lifestyle choices when they discover they are pregnant. Finding non-alcoholic alternatives to your favourite beverage is one tip they share with mums-to-be.
They encourage you to talk to your GP or midwife if you are concerned about alcohol consumption and pregnancy.