Have you ever wondered about wine, women, and pregnancy? This has been going on with me since the warnings first began to emerge in the 1980s… By then, I had already had three happy, healthy daughters, and I was an occasional wine drinker during the 70s through 1980, when I gave birth to my third and final daughter.
For instance, I wonder how Europeans even have any population left at all, considering that they don’t have the same prohibitions in place against all wine during pregnancy… And, I wonder how I gave birth to these three really gorgeous, talented, and smart daughters, considering that I occasionally had a bit of wine while carrying each one?
I’m not going on record as advocating for having a bit of wine while you’re pregnant. Each woman has to make her own decisions about that one.
I do enjoy studying this one, however.
A bit of Prohibitionism background, from my life’s chair… by Dr. Peggy Drexler Nov. 17, 2012; author, research psychologist and gender scholar, published by the Huffington Post, entitled, “A Loaded Question: On Drinking While Pregnant. ”
Until the early 1970s, moderate drinking while pregnant was both common and, for the most part, unquestioned. Many share stories of how their own mothers drank or smoked throughout their pregnancies, a cultural standard revisited in television shows like Mad Men, in which a very pregnant Betty Draper is seen smoking in the maternity ward. In 1973, however, a University of Washington study identified a group of physical and mental birth defects caused by drinking alcohol, together now known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. Though studies showing that FAS was a very rare outcome of largely severe alcoholism emerged as early as 1980 — with numbers never rising over 1 case in 1,000 — FAS as a notion was transformative.
According to a 1999 report published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, FAS was key in turning excessive drinking from a moral (and largely private, family) concern to a viable public health matter, and by the 1990s was widely associated with child neglect and abuse, poverty, rising crime, and mental illness. In 1990, Wyoming became the first state to charge a drunk pregnant woman with felony child abuse.
Here’s one source, a Danish study, that has a European perspective and is close to my own personal beliefs… Again, each pregnant woman must make up her own mind and not be swayed by anything I’m personally writing. I have no academic studies on this on… I’m just wondering out loud and giving you links for your own considerations:
Light Drinking in Pregnancy May Not Be Harmful… June 20, 2012, by John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today ~ Children whose mothers drank small amounts of alcohol in early to mid-pregnancy, or even binged occasionally, showed no signs of mental problems at age 5, results of a Danish study indicated… Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel, PhD, of Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues reported in BJOG: International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
From Scientific American, by science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer, cites the Danish study and goes a step further in… To Drink or Not to Drink… Feb. 1, 2013~ Meanwhile women who drink lightly while pregnant may have protective characteristics. Compared with abstainers, they “are often the more affluent moms, the more educated moms, and the smarter moms as well,” perhaps because they belong to a higher socioeconomic class than teetotalers, says epidemiologist Ron Gray of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford. This effect could explain why, in a 2010 study, clinical psychologist Monique Robinson and her colleagues at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, discovered that children of mothers who drank two to six drinks a week while pregnant were less likely to have behavioral problems in the first 14 years of their lives than were children of mothers who abstained.
Okay, I’m considering… they “are often the more affluent moms, the more educated moms, and the smarter moms as well, perhaps because they belong to a higher socioeconomic class than teetotalers”… Does this mean that we’re more adventurous or more independent in our thinking? Does this mean that we don’t believe everything our government throws at us, because we’ve learned it’s not always in our best interest, but in the interest of our government and/or big business?
I just can’t help but have all of these wonderings.
A story entitled The Weighty Responsibility of Drinking for Two found in the New York Times… Nov. 29, 2006 by Julia Moskin… really makes one think… ~ Proof, it turns out, is hard to come by when it comes to “moderate” or “occasional” drinking during pregnancy. Standard definitions, clinical trials and long-range studies simply do not exist. “Clinically speaking, there is no such thing as moderate drinking in pregnancy” said Dr. Ernest L. Abel, a professor at Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit, who has led many studies on pregnancy and alcohol. “The studies address only heavy drinking” — defined by the National Institutes of Health as five drinks or more per day — “or no drinking.”
Where’s the one on moderate drinking? I have to ask. Is this a new chapter in Prohibition? I can’t help but ask these questions as I continue to wonder about wine, women, and pregnancy.
What do you think?
Hello Jo, I loved your article.
I believe that occasional light drinking (especially wine, I would refrain from a hard liquor) it wouldn’t be harmful during pregnancy!
Some of the reasons for that is the fact that I am Bulgarian and was raised in a country where many women drank (and smoked during pregnancy) and the children, including me, turned just fine. I also never found a study that really proves that a glass of wine here and there will harm the baby while you are pregnant.
However, whenever I express this opinion in front of people, they usually look at me as if I am crazy and irresponsible. I even got into an argument with my boyfriend over it, and I am not even pregnant. We were speaking hypothetically. And I said I would have some wine occasionally If I ever get pregnant. He didn’t like that…
Anyway, you are right, everyone has to decide for themselves! And I am glad you are raising this question!
Thank you and Cheers!
PS: I am forwarding this article to my boyfriend 🙂
Good for you. The US study was done on alcoholic women… I’m sorry, people who did this study, but I fear you had an ulterior motive.