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Drinking Even ‘A Little’ While Pregnant Can Still Harm Fetus

A British study reported low levels of alcohol before conception and during pregnancy could still have an adverse impact on the fetus. Risks include low birth percentile, low birth weight and premature birth.

The study of 1,303 pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 45 years old found that women who drank less than two units a week during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy were at increased risk of the aforementioned complications.

For example, the adjusted odds ratios for giving birth prematurely were 4.6 for women who drank less than two units of alcohol a week  and 3.5 for those who drank more than two units a week, compared with nondrinkers (0.03).

But the association was “nonsignificant” in those who drank in the four weeks before conception and during the second and third trimesters.

Highlighting the importance of fetal growth and gestation during the first trimester, the authors write, “Maternal alcohol intake during the first trimester was found to have the strongest association with fetal growth and gestational age.”

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the study suggests that women who are planning to conceive and/or who are pregnant should abstain from alcohol.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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