Doctors always advice women to abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but some may say some wine every once in a while is fine. A new study shows that drinking one or two glasses of wine a week during pregnancy may have an impact on a child’s IQ. In the study from researchers from Oxford and Bristol universities looked at the IQ scores of 4,000 children as well as recording the alcohol intake of their mothers.
The researchers found that a moderate alcohol intake of one to six units a week during pregnancy had an affect on the IQ levels of the studied children. The effects were small, said experts, but reinforced the need to avoid alcohol in pregnancy. Previous studies have shown inconsistent results. It is difficult to separate factors that may have an effect such as the mother’s age or education when determining if low to moderate levels of alcohol are harmful in pregnancy. However, this research, published in the PLOS One journal, ruled out that possibility by looking at changes in the genes that are not connected to social or lifestyle effects.
The study found that four genetic variants in alcohol metabolizing genes found in mothers and their children were strongly related to a lower IQ at age eight. On average, the child’s IQ score was almost two points lower per genetic modification they possessed. This was only shown by women who drank between one and six drinks a week during pregnancy and was not found to be true among those women who abstained from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The differences are small, but are significant. The lower IQ score correlates with being socially disadvantaged, having poor health, and even dying younger. “It is for individual women to decide whether or not to drink during pregnancy, we just want to provide the evidence,” stated a Department of Health spokesman, adding, “But I would recommend avoiding alcohol. Why take the risk?”