A new study undertaken by Leeds University has shown that middle-class pregnant women are more at risk of having smaller, premature babies because they consume too much alcohol during their pregnancy.
The study has found that more than 50% of pregnant women drink consume more than the daily recommended amount during their first trimester. They also found that older white females who held degrees, and resided in affluent areas, are more likely to consume more alcohol than they are advised to.
Pregnant women who consumed more than the recommended two units per week doubled their risk of giving birth to premature or very small babies, compared to those who abstain completely.
The results of the study have highlighted the need to endorse an abstinence-only recommendation. It has also indicated that the timing of an elated level of consumption is important. Drinking alcohol during the first trimester could cause the most damage to the foetus.
The research has indicated that it is best for females to abstain completely from alcohol during the time when they are trying to conceive and throughout the entire term of their pregnancy.
The recommendation from the Department of Health is that women trying to conceive and pregnant women should abstain or drink no more than one or two units each week. This is the equivalent of a single glass of wine.
According to the results of the study, it was found that pregnant women normally consumed at least four units per week during their first trimester and only once they reached the second trimester, they cut back to two units or below.
A professor of Neonatal Medicine at the University of Bristol, Andrew Whitelaw, has found it interesting that consumption was greater in women who came from a strong social and economic background. He stated that these are the women who would normally be at the lowest risk of having a baby with low birth weight or a premature baby. This indicates that even small amounts of alcohol can affect the growing foetus.
In view of this research, it is recommended that pregnant women follow the advice of the UK Chief Medical Officers and avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy.
Image credit: Tatiana Vdb