Ask any pregnant woman about the cardinal rule of pregnancy and her answer will likely be "no alcohol." For good reason too- alcohol during pregnancy can cause a host of problems, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
A new study out of Denmark, however, is now saying that moderate drinking has no effect on young children and is actually ok.
The study analyzed 1,600 women's alcohol consumption over the course of their pregnancy. The groups included women who didn't drink (zero drinks a week), low drinkers (1 to 4 drinks a week), moderate drinkers (5 to 8 drinks a week), and high drinkers (9 or more drinks a week.) Binge drinking was defined as 5 or more drinks in one sitting.
At age five, the women's children were assessed for their IQ, attention span and thinking skills needed for planning, organization and self-control.
The findings showed low to moderate alcohol consumption and binge drinking during pregnancy had no effect on the children's brain development. However, the study did find that high amounts of alcohol may cause lower attention spans in children by age 5.
Many doctors are quick to warn women that despite the findings, avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is still the best practice. Many women might not understand the frequency or amounts of alcohol that are deemed safe, and alcoholics could potentially use this study to rationalize drinking.
Additionally, larger scale studies are needed to study any effects low to moderate drinking might cause, and the accuracy of testing young children has many specialists skeptical.