Drinking in Pregnancy Beneficial to Children if Light?

Is drinking in pregnancy beneficial to the children born? Could light drinking actually help children? If so, should pregnant women drink a little?

The Research

Drinking in Pregnancy BeneficialResearchers used a nation-wide sample of infants born in the UK. The infants were part of a larger study. That project followed the health of children born in a two-year period. The study analyzed 12,495 three-year-old children.

The Results

What happened with children born to mothers who drank light amounts of alcohol during pregnancy? They had fewer conduct, emotional, and peer problems. That’s compared to those born to abstaining mothers. And to those who drank heavily while pregnant.

Drinking in Pregnancy BeneficialBoys born to light drinkers had 40% fewer conduct problems. They were 30% less likely to suffer hyperactivity. And received higher scores on tests of vocabulary. They did better on ability to identify colors, shapes, letters and numbers. That was compared to boys born to pregnant abstainers.

Girls born to light drinkers were 30% less likely to have emotional symptoms and peer problems. That’s in comparison to those born to abstainers during pregnancy.

Children born to heavy drinkers were more likely to have these problems. There were only 2% of the total mothers.

Results Raise Questions

Drinking in Pregnancy Beneficial
Dr. Yvonne Kelly

Lead researcher Dr. Yvonne Kelly said the study raises serious questions.  For example “whether the current push for polic to recommend complete abstinence during pregnancy is merited.”

The U.K government recommends that women abstain during pregnancy. And if they drink, they should have no more than one or two drinks. That should be once or twice a week. Also, pregnant women should not get drunk.

Drinking in Pregnancy Beneficial?


    • This site gives no advice on drinking in pregnancy.
    • Drawing by Claire Milbrath.