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'Drinking while pregnant harms the child': study

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 10 Aug 2009, 08:47

Published: 10 Aug 2009 08:47 GMT+02:00

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The incidence of behavioural problems among children is higher among those whose mothers drank as little as one to four glasses of wine per week, the institute claims according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

"The best thing to do is to completely abstain from alcohol consumption when you are pregnant or planning to be. After a couple of glasses of wine you can have an blood alcohol percentage of 0.5, the same level as the child. The difference is that the child's cells are far more sensitive," the institute explains in a advice pamphlet to parents.

The official Swedish recommendations are based on scientific evidence, the institute claims after having compiled a report of the available studies on the area.

The report will be presented at a conference in Stockholm in September in collaboration with the EU Commission's health and consumer issues unit.

A previous survey has indicated that 30 percent of Swedish women do not abstain from alcohol while pregnant and there is concern across the EU over increasing alcohol consumption among women.

The institute appointed a researcher, Sara Holmgren, to compile a report from the more than one thousand studies on the area and 62 were considered to fit the criteria in addition to six international research studies.

In two of three studies on pre-school children it was found that children of mothers who had consumed as little as one to four glasses of wine while pregnant experienced behavioural and psychological problems between the ages of three and six.

Children were reported to be more hyperactive and found it harder to make friends.

Two of a further five studies on older children showed a link between alcohol and psychological problems.

Despite that fact that four of the eight studies did not indicate a link between alcohol consumption while pregnant and behavioural problems the institute maintains that the evidence is sufficient to support its recommendation.

Story continues below…

"In any other area, for example regarding food, two would probably have been sufficient," Sven Bremberg at the institute explained to the newspaper.

The Swedish government has identified the health of young people, including the unborn child, as a prioritised area during the country's presidency of the EU.

The report will form the basis of EU discussions at the Stockholm conference in September and furthermore discussions by EU health ministers in Brussels on November 30th.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:37 August 10, 2009 by Hauhr
Good. Now it's black-and-white: NO drinking or smoking while pregnant or breast-feeding. As if a good dose of commonsense wouldnt tell you that already. It just made me so angry when they started going on about how "a little" alcohol was ok, about a half a year ago. Keep it simple, no confusing mixed-messages. Thank you.
12:25 August 10, 2009 by bettan1
Maybe the Swedish Government will come out with a report about Snus being perfectly safe for pregnant mothers and assure people that the tax revenue from the government sponsored drug trade of Snus goes for a good cause.
12:55 August 10, 2009 by glamelixir
I was aware of this since I can recall, and I am 35 now.

Can't really understand how they can be explaining something so obvious, and still testing it.

Is Sweden really a country from the 1st world? I have my doubts more and more.

I can't believe alcohol is such an important matter in this society. I am ashame of seeing them when they are drunk and I am now embarrassed to think that they could even consider drinking while pregnant.
14:57 August 10, 2009 by BillyB
err...you dont say

Any other studies we can do which everybody already has known the answers to for 10 years?

Maybe a study into the effects of the suns rays on human skin or can smoking affect your lungs?
15:51 August 10, 2009 by farnoxo
A plea to press reporters to PLEASE report the numbers behind a statement like "The incidence of behavioural problems among children is higher among those whose mothers drank as little as one to four glasses of wine per week".

Was the "incidence" 1% higher (possibly worth taking note of), 10% higher (definitely a 'sit up and take notice' number) or 0.001% higher (academic piffle that should be ignored)?
17:36 August 10, 2009 by I Love it when ...
what made you see sense ???

of course it harms the baby ... its already a known fact

did you lot just catch on?
17:45 August 10, 2009 by byke
I cant believe they even needed to pay someone to make such an assessment !

How thick does the gene pool need to be ?

What are they going to do next, say that crack cocaine or LSD can effect pregnancies.

well duh ....
17:49 August 10, 2009 by Puffin
If I were to be very cynical I would say the results of this report are probably extremely unreliable - anyone who ADMITS to the district midwife in the alcohol monitoring survey that they carry out at various times during pregancy that they are drinking 4 glasses of wine a week in a country like Sweden is in reality probably drinking a lot more
19:36 August 10, 2009 by Uncle
No such research was factual before and no such research ever scientifically proved anything. Including this one.

It is slightly difficult to find mothers that would agree drinking in a test group for 9 months and then see what happens. Whereas mothers that MAY agree to this - are probably natural alcoholics for few years before the pregnancy, therefore undermining the clean results. In addition in such a research one needs to trust whatever the mothers inform you about their drinking habits and not have a precise and measurable testing. It is also easy to say that mothers that drink during pregnancy could be usually uneducated or from difficult background, which could also explain behavioral problems with children.
21:02 August 10, 2009 by Greg in Canada
This is really old news. It's been known for thirty years that alcohol, tobacco and pregnancy just don't mix. But some people need to be reminded again.
21:20 August 10, 2009 by BillyB
Helpful tip: Covering yourself in petrol and lighting a match is bad for your health...

There is no official study showing this yet, but it is not a good thing.
21:22 August 10, 2009 by EtoileBrilliant
Not wishing to go against the grain on this one, but the words "Peter" and "Wolf" come to mind. As little as 4 years ago the Swedish health authorities declared it completely unsafe to consume alcohol while breastfeeding. Last year they retracted this, not on the grounds of new resaerch, but simply because they lied. This had been thought helpful as they believed that most women couldn't be capable of drinking in moderation while breastfeeding. So they decied to skews the research results.
08:07 August 11, 2009 by Aussie_Downunder
DER!!!!!!!!! What more is there to discuss?
14:33 August 11, 2009 by chima_arsenal
WOW!!! This has to be the 10000000th time i am seeing a well known fact coming up in the news as '' new study proves that'' .
14:40 August 11, 2009 by Mzungu
Agree, enough BS said.

*thread closed*
23:45 August 11, 2009 by Miss Kitten
We'd also like to inform everyone that water is wet and fire is hot.
09:35 August 12, 2009 by Nuname
50% of the studies found no link.

What are behavioural problems? Don't you think that mothers who ignore all the current advice about drinking may not be the best mothers after the child is born? There may just be some correlation?

We in the west have a history of drinking alcohol going back millennia, there may even be some benefits of alcohol consumption to the child.
10:20 August 12, 2009 by Puffin
People used to get prescribed alcohol during pregnancy - when hospitalised with pre-eclampsia with my brother - my mother was made to drink a glass of Guiness per day for its iron content
14:14 August 12, 2009 by Mib
What a load of BS! Having 1 glass of wine in a week is not going to damage your unborn child...except where you as a person may have a genetic makeup that makes you more susceptible to alcohol consumption, which would be a tiny minority.

If 1 glass of wine can cause damage to an unborn child, then the next stage is not to go out or live by traffic where you will inhale exhaust smoke. Don't eat sweets due to the processed sugar. Don't get stressed as this will cause stress to your child. Don't do this, don't do that etc etc. We're living in a nanny state. Go to the UK and you will here different advice. Put simply, I think these type of statements are made for the stupid people who are probably smoking, drinking as if they we not pregnant. And 6 months later, weäll hear contradictiry info. again.

Put simply, if you have any intelligence between your ears, trust your instincts and if you want to be 100% sure, follow the advice. However, don't beat yourself up or blame any problems on drinking a glass of wine.

As a new Father, you're bomabarded with how to raise your child, but funnily enough, my Daughter didn't fall into most of the boxes that so called child professionals want to place them in. FOr God's sake, our parents and their parents did a very good job without all this BS info.
15:12 August 12, 2009 by Jamtjim
I guess the reason its news again is because it is now a Swedish authority which has issed the report. For the rest of the world, a report from another country like the US or UK for example may suffice but in Sweden information is classed as highly dubious unless it has come from an offical Swedish authority.

Take using moblie phones in cars as someone else did on another thread. Everyone knows that using a mobile while driving is dangerous and is prohibited in many countries. Here, it is not banned and therefore in the eyes of Sven, perfectly ok and so he continues to talk dirty to his girlfriend whilst tearing about the town centre in his Volvo.

Trowbridge, I like your style. I didnt realise that a 83 year old woman could be refered to as a girlfiend... Good for you man!

MiB it isnt rocket science mate. An unborn babies blood alcohol level is the same as its mothers. Alcohol is actually a poison (that why it is referd to as an intoxicant) so by drinking alcohol as a pregnant woman you are actually poisoning your baby. Now you may argue as to the degree of harm it does, but surely poisoning a child is not to be recommended even to a small degree. If someone were to give alcohol to a new born, there would be uproar so why do the same whilst its in the womb? Personally, I feel sorry for mother who have to refrain from drinking for a year or to, I couldnt do it! But thats just tough luck! If you want a baby, dont drink alcohol... end of!

As for the traffic polution, most people can control their intake of alcohol where as it is less simple to control what air you inhale. In an ideal world we would all be able to live in a exhaust gas free environment... it just isnt possible right now!
05:31 August 13, 2009 by Hedley
I have have read some of the sources of original article. To read the most of the studies were not available, since they are published in Journals that you have to pay!

However I was reading Peter Nilson's study methodology and I had to stop, since I have found a "lead time bias": all groups were not selected at the same time.

"We divide the children born in the treatment counties in the selected cohorts into four groups depending on their exposure status: (1) those born prior to the initiation of the

experiment, and hence only exposed after birth; (2) those exposed to the experiment in

utero but conceived before the experiment started; (3) those exposed to the experiment in utero but conceived during the course of the experiment; and (4) those who were

conceived after the end of the experiment and who, as a result, were not exposed either

during pregnancy or after birth"
14:11 August 15, 2009 by Petalpusher
Hahaha, what a profound article!

That's a pretty large difference in drinks/week: "little as one to four glasses of wine per week."

But I guess common sense is not all that common, I saw some pregnant coworkers drink cidre at a couple parties. Hmmmph.
14:38 August 15, 2009 by UKLady
@Trowbridge and Mib.

I agree!

If so many things are so bad for us, how are any of us here? Lets face it, our parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents didn't have any of these studies to gain information from. They were totally reliant on their own intellect and common sense!

People drank, smoke, ate eggs, soft cheeses, shellfish and a whole host of things that pregnant women should not do and yet they had healthy full-term babies who repeated the process as adults, who again repeated the process etc. until it got to us.

All of a sudden things were "researched" and it was suddenly don't do this, don't eat that. Six months later a reverse report would be issued contradicting the previous ones! No wonder people don't have a clue what to do with such mixed messages!

I was diagnosed with severe iron deficiency whilst pregnant and told by the midwife to take iron tablets AND if I wanted to , to drink a glass of stout (guinness) with my evening meal. Now, if so-called experts in their field of work are prescribing such things, then does it make the surveys wrong or are these experts in anti-natal care wrong??

Makes me laugh to be honest that people are paid x amounts of pounds to state something that has been going on for donkeys, when they should be researching more into why we think its ok to stick rubber teats that contain toxins in a babies mouths (dummys and bottle teats) whilst shoving cows milk into newborns (which contains the organisms that cause mastitis (sp) (breastgland infections)!

Or how about why we push so much processed babyfood into our little ones tummies - instead of making our own food ?

Better yet, why so many feel its perfectly fine to let their 1 yr or younger baby be put in daycare so early just to go back to work.

If we want the best for our children I would suggest we dispense with the "alcohol is bad" surveys (which is a no brainer imo - by now everyone knows that excessive drinking is harmful) and start worrying about other things we do to children.
06:55 August 16, 2009 by Investor612
UKLady, I don't know what planet you were living on, but for more than the last half century responsible pregnant women have been avoiding alcohol and tobacco while pregnant. Do a little research.
10:00 August 16, 2009 by Nuname
The planet called the United Kingdom perhaps?

The sanctimonious are really out in force today aren't they.
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