Should you just say no to that pinot noir when you're pregnant? Learn why some women are still saying yes to alcohol when they're expecting.

By Meredith Franco Meyers
March 26, 2014

Okay, I admit it: It was hard to give up my nightly glass of pinot after I got pregnant with my daughter. I had already given up so many other things: sushi, deli meats, hot yoga. Let's not forget that I had given over my entire body to create a new human being! I wanted to have at least one way to indulge. By the time I was in the throes of the third trimester, I was not shy about ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant. I would wait all week for my one five-ounce glass, the quantity my doctor had said was considered okay at this point. I would actually make the bartender measure it--and a few times, I split my allotment into two weekly treats, two ounces of white wine mixed with seltzer for a mommy spritzer.

When I started researching this article, though, I gulped, learning that alcohol intake in pregnancy has long been considered a major no-no by experts.

The reality is that nearly all studies about alcohol in pregnancy agree that there is no known "safe" amount of the substance for mom and baby. Alcohol crosses the placenta. It can affect baby's development at any time. Siobhan Dolan, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and women's health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, says there's a reason the major organizations such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the March of Dimes do not mince words on this topic. "They absolutely advocate for alcohol abstinence during pregnancy because there is no known safe threshold of alcohol during pregnancy," Dr. Dolan says.

Still, many pregnant women reach for a glass now and then. In a recent study, the women most likely to report alcohol use during pregnancy were between the ages of 35 and 44. "This is not classically a high-risk population," says Mona Prasad, D.O., M.P.H.. an assistant professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Ohio State University. "An older, educated patient may have the experience of successful prior pregnancies, and be less willing to change her behavior."

Of course, any conversation about women unable to give up a known toxin during pregnancy needs to mention those women who are actually addicted to it. Women who are addicted to alcohol or are binge drinkers in pregnancy are at the greatest risk of having babies with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the result of heavy exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The syndrome can cause a host of developmental prob-lems and disorders in babies and children. It is also the number-one cause of mental retardation in chil-dren.

Most of us simply want a taste of the bubbly now and then during an otherwise long, nine-month stretch. If this is the case, talk to your doctor. Or start researching fun recipes for mocktails!

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