The dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy are well established. Regular or excessive intake of alcohol while pregnant can lead to any number of problems, including delayed development, hearing or vision problems, low birthweight, fetal alcohol syndrome, organ deformities, kidney or urinary tract defects, brain damage, and even death. Studies indicate that the more that a woman drinks during pregnancy, the more that the risks for these unfortunate occurrences increase. If a woman is prone to binge drinking during pregnancy, these risks rise as well. However, many women who don’t drink regularly or excessively wonder if drinking the odd glass of wine or the occasional beer during pregnancy is safe.
Studies suggest that even occasional or moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy may carry some risks. While it is extremely unlikely that, if you have a glass of wine two or three times during your pregnancy, your baby would be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, it is still possible that there could be detrimental effects. There are fewer studies about moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy, so it is difficult to say statistically what percentage of women who drink the odd glass of wine during pregnancy experience complications because of it.
Because of the fact that the effects of moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy are not known, the March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or who can become pregnant avoid alcohol of any sort, including wine, beer, and liquor. In the case of alcohol, it may be better to err on the side of caution when it comes to pregnancy.
If you become pregnant and have had an occasional glass of wine before you discovered that you were pregnant, you are most likely safe. However, here again, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you are trying to become pregnant, you should probably avoid alcohol altogether. If your pregnancy is a surprise and you have been drinking, you will greatly reduce your risks of complications by stopping immediately. If you are concerned that your drinking may have harmed your baby, or if you believe that you may have a drinking problem, you should contact your health care provider immediately. She may be able to help determine the best course of action.