Pregnancy and alcohol consumption, again

We talked about it before, here, here and here, but there is new research, reported in Slate that the occasional glass of something alcoholic really is not demonstrably bad for a foetus – and might even have some beneficial effects on boys (this is old news btw, when I was studying physiological psychology years ago, it was already known that moderate ethanol intake in very young males has beneficial effects on cognitive functioning. I’d have to dig those refs up!)

It’s really time to end the witch hunt on women who enjoy a glass of wine occasionally when pregnant.

A note on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): the sneaky part about that is that it develops in the first four weeks of pregnancy – exactly, right when one doesn’t realise one is pregnant. And you really have to drink quite a bit to have your fetus develop it. There seem to be some controversies about it, too, as a lot of foetuses from heavy drinkers do not develop FAS, so there’s something else at play.

I am not advocating drinking, I just am in favour of people being allowed to make their own well informed choices. Cheers!




7 thoughts on “Pregnancy and alcohol consumption, again

  1. Can’t tell you how often I have ranted about this to my undergraduate bioethics students. I also make a habit of taking down the signs you find in Canadian washrooms that tell women not to drink alcohol if they are pregnant. It’s my little stealth resistance movement.

  2. The problem is that there are many women out there who do not know what their limit on alcohol is. In my opinion, it is best just to refrain from alcohol all together while pregnant… I got a thorough explanation of the mechanism of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by reading Jeff Herten, M.D.’s latest book titled, “The Sobering Truth.” The book explains how the introduction of alcohol to fetal brain development creates a variety of disabilities. I tend to believe him on this one.

  3. Becky – This is a self-published vanity book, and neither the press nor the author have any academic credentials. It is an uncontroversial scientific fact that no one currently understands the mechanisms behind FAS. Read actual scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals for confirmation of this.

  4. What is the evidence, exactly, that claims to the effect that pregnant women must not drink amount to a “witch hunt”? I understand that conventional wisdom surrounding fetal alcohol syndrome is dubious–that’s fine. But what is it that makes you so sure that this is motivated in particular by the desire to tamp down women’s enjoyment? The fact is that alcohol consumption (no matter who’s drinking) is associated with a wide range of serious health problems, and that people are especially sensitive to health problems as they relate to pregnancy and infants. Why isn’t this sufficient to explain misconceptions surrounding F.A.S.? What shows that misogyny has a hand in this?

  5. Kris –

    I don’t think hippocampa is claiming that anything here is `motivated … by the desire to tamp down women’s enjoyment’. I take it that a witch hunt can be any irrational persecution of women who engage in socially unsanctioned behavior. By that definition, a witch hunt will be misogynistic because of its effects, whatever the motivations behind it.

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