Q: Is it safe to drink any alcohol while I'm pregnant?
A: I'm asked this question all the time, and it's a tough one to answer. While the risks of heavy drinking during pregnancy (having five or more drinks in one night, or drinking on more than five occasions in the last month) are well-documented, less is known about how the occasional drink, like a glass of champagne at a wedding, may affect an unborn baby.
Heavy drinkers are more likely to experience miscarriage and preterm birth, and to have babies with birth defects, brain and nervous system problems, and fetal alcohol syndrome. In addition, children born to heavy drinkers are more likely to face learning disabilities as well as behavioral and emotional issues later in life.
But will a beer here or there have these same effects? Although it's unlikely, no one knows for sure -- which is why many experts believe that no level of alcohol consumption is safe during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimesters when your baby's most crucial development takes place. Another concern is that even the occasional drink can become a slippery slope and that before a woman even realizes it, she's had several drinks over the course of a week.
The bottom line: There's no certainly no upside to drinking during pregnancy, and even light imbibing can pose some risk. If you have questions about what's right for you, talking to your doctor can help you weigh the risks and make a decision you feel comfortable with.