On Diet: Discussing Alcohol and Pregnancy | lifestyles

Dear Dr. blonz, I just found out I’m seven weeks pregnant with my second child. I had no idea I was pregnant as I have always had irregular periods. By the time I found out, I had been regularly drinking a glass of wine with dinner. I’m eating well overall, but I’m concerned if the wine will harm my unborn child.

Several people have told me that they drank a glass of wine every day during their pregnancy and nothing happened to their baby. And a friend of mine recently told me that her doctor said that a glass of wine once in a while during pregnancy couldn’t hurt. How would anyone know if this is safe, considering “now and then” can vary from person to person? Please clear up this mess for me. – RB, San Francisco

Dear RB: Congratulations on your pregnancy. It’s difficult to say with certainty whether your drinking might be affecting your child; There are many variables and we just don’t know.

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Research and statistical tables have established a link between the level of alcohol consumption and the subsequent occurrence of problems for the developing child. Cohort studies — those that follow a group of people for a period of time — have linked heavy drinking to a higher risk of fetal abnormalities and death. Note the mention of “heavy drinking.”

You are not the first person to learn you have been pregnant while leading a healthy lifestyle that includes light to moderate wine consumption. It is not an uncommon circumstance; please don’t let the guilt plague you. Having the alcohol drunk with food is important, as alcohol is absorbed directly through the stomach lining, which explains why drinking on an empty stomach quickly becomes noticeable.

We’re dealing with statistics and risk factors, and the reality is that it’s unlikely there will ever be a definitive amount of alcohol that’s been proven “safe” during pregnancy. Recommendations should be on the side of abstinence, as no one wants to encourage behavior that could lead to problems.

Be sure to discuss this with your gynecologist. Check out the information pages on drinking during pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at b.link/ufg4tj and the National Library of Medicine at b.link/yfmpqh.

There is no question that drinking in excess is bad and that alcohol is not essential to your child’s health. Of all the times in life, pregnancy is not the time to take risks, even small ones. My best to you and your family.

Ed Blonz, Ph.D., is a nutritionist and clinical assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of the digital book The Wellness Supermarket Buying Guide (2012), which is also available as a free digital resource at blonz.com/guide.

Submit questions to: “On Nutrition”, Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Submit email inquiries to [email protected]

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