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New IQ research prompts warning over drinking alcohol during pregnancy

(210 Posts)
FirstTimeForEverything Thu 15-Nov-12 09:47:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

emeraldgirl1 Thu 15-Nov-12 09:50:28

I am in such 2 minds about this (the v new slant on the research, not the fundamental idea that you shouldn't drink much during pregnancy!!!)

I have probably had about a unit a week (small glass of red wine) since the start of the second trimester, maybe 2 units spread over 5 days during one week when I was on holiday. I just can't (or don't want to?) believe that this has done any real harm. That said, I guess in the light of the new research I'm not sure I'll have the little half-glass of champagne I'd planned (and looked forward to!) this w/e at DH's birthday...

Would be v v interested to know what others think?

sundaesundae Thu 15-Nov-12 09:56:28

Well moderate is three glasses a week, so emerald I think you are fine! I have had one glass of cava in 5 months and will likely have 1 or 2 over christmas and new year, I am happy with that.

I also wonder how significant 1.8 IQ points are and the relative IQ's of those parents compaired to the non-drinkers.

ByTheWay1 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:01:50

people who drink normally think it's fine, people who don't drink think it isn't... - everyone is going to do what the heck they like anyhow - all this does is make the drinkers feel guilty...

I'm of the don't drink, don't smoke when pregnant brigade - why would I take the risk.....

emeraldgirl1 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:08:39

Sundae, yes when I had a more careful look at the article I did see the 1.8 points thing - obviously nobody wants their child to lose IQ points but it's not as dramatic a drop as I thought it might be!!
In all honesty, of all the many many many things I worry about re the baby's health (I am neurotic plus we have disability issues in the family), IQ points are not one of them.

PiedWagtail Thu 15-Nov-12 10:12:45

But did they weigh for all other possible factors that could have an impact on a child's IQ such as nutrition, social class, IQ of parents, amount the father drank (does alcohol affect sperm?), etc., etc.? Seems hard to narrow it down to simply alcohol.

BonaDea Thu 15-Nov-12 10:13:07

Also, there is a huge difference in the scale of the drinking in the group they tested. Surely there is a BIG difference between 1 unit and 6 (they said they looked at those who'd had between 1-6 units per week!).

Also, I'd imagine that those women drinking 6 units each week are likely to have IQ, social and educational differences which might also affect their child's IQ...

I think I'll still have a glass of champagne at Christmas.

NoVictim1 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:19:45

If you know something could harm your baby...why would you even chance doing it?

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 10:21:09

1.8 IQ points lower eh? What amount is taken in for possible error? 1-2 points? That would cancel the results out.

What age were the children when tested? A few months age difference can make a few points difference on tests.

How were the units measured? Was it based on what the mothers said rather than actually measured out? Room for lots of discrepancy there.

As PiedWagtail asks, were all the parents from the exact same socio-economic background? What age were the parents?

How many children were tested?

Listen, I'm not saying that everyone should go off and get blitzed during pregnancy. In fact, I probably drank the equivalent of one bottle over the entire nine months (not the same bottle, ew) but that's me.

I just don't think women need yet another possibly skewed study to tell them how to behave during pregnancy.

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 10:21:40

NoVictim, driving my car could have harmed my baby. I chanced that, what about you?

emeraldgirl1 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:25:59

AndiMac - god, yes, hadn't even thought about the actual issue of measuring the amounts - were they basing it on actual scientific measurements or just what the parents claimed said...?

CombustionEngine Thu 15-Nov-12 10:27:16

I just don't think women need yet another possibly skewed study to tell them how to behave during pregnancy


It's this kind of thing which slowly erodes the view that a woman is a person in her own right and is merely an incubator for a baby which in turn allows more and more extreme restrictions over how a woman is expected to conduct herself during pregnancy.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 10:32:07

Here's the article so you can read it yourself

Fetal Alcohol Exposure and IQ at Age 8: Evidence from a Population-Based Birth-Cohort Study

It pisses me off so much that newspapers like the Guardian don't even bother linking to freely accessible research.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 10:34:56

It looks pretty good research btw. It would stop me drinking regularly in pregnancy, but doesn't tell you anything about having the occasional drink (I think 1-6 units every week is a lot actually, but then when I'm not pregnant I don't drink that much on a weekly basis).

ladymia Thu 15-Nov-12 10:37:33

I always wonder if, in a couple of years drinking will be seen the same way smoking was years ago, once they do more research.

For that reason i don't touch alcohol during pregnancy.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 10:41:09

Interesting though that, under "Measurement of Alcohol Intake"

"One drink was specified as one unit of alcohol" - that's not what a unit of alcohol is confused. So they're talking about people who had 1-6 drinks every week?? That could include people who were exceeding the normal recommended alcohol limit for women, if it was say 6 large home-measures of wine.

DawnOfTheDee Thu 15-Nov-12 10:43:35

For starters I wish they'd narrowed down the amount of units. 1 unit is a lot less than 6 obvs. Secondly 1.8 IQ points doesn't seem that big a drop. I would hazard a guess that you could take any defining factor of 2 groups of children...hair colour for arguments sake....and find a difference of 1.8.

ReindeerBollocks Thu 15-Nov-12 10:47:46

I drank a hell of a lot the weekend before I tested three weeks ago (had no idea I was pregnant and only tested due to DH's suggestion - I wasn't late).

This has me worried, especially since it would normally be within the first trimester that this matters most.

Also I am quite surprised at the amount of different factors taken into consideration at eight years old. My son has recently sat logic tests at school (which they do nationwide at eight). He scored very highly, but it would be interesting to know if it was this type of testing they carried out. I want to know if the other children who tested highly in my sons school had parents who drank at all during pregnancy.

Treats Thu 15-Nov-12 10:52:37

The thing is, it's IMPOSSIBLE to correctly measure the impact of drinking in pregnancy. To do that, you would have to have samples of pregnant women drinking different amounts during pregnancy and then measure the outcome on their babies throughout life. I'm not going to volunteer for that experiment......

It would be much more honest to say "We can't possibly quantify what the impact of drinking during pregnancy is, so we would recommend that you restrict your alcohol intake as much as possible during pregnancy - ideally nothing at all - to avoid any risks"

Trying to do 'sort-of' studies, that can't actually record the data correctly or control for all the variables, doesn't really help.

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 10:56:47

ReindeerBollocks, this is the IQ test they used for the children. Wechsler Test. Which they amusingly misspelled in the study report - guess the some scientist's mum had a drink whilst pregnant!

I make a joke because I think the report is a joke. You can't expect people to tell you honestly and reliably how much they drank in the past, and you can't base it on "glasses" rather than a proper measurement scale like units.

EdgarAllanPond Thu 15-Nov-12 11:15:57

1.8 - breastfeeding studies have found much greater differences -and those studies face the same criticism - that even if you account for education level and social class (which this has, from the precis), unless you IQ test both parents also you don't know if you are looking at an association rather than a causally linked effect.

6 drinks is perhaps 10-15 units depending on what is drunk. bearing in mind that problem drinkers will always underestimate consumption when interviewed by a HCP - i don't think they have eliminated all heavy drinkers from their 'moderate drinker' group.

the precis also comments that there are associated beneficial things with women that drink occasionally and negative things with those who abstain - women who are terrified of losing their pregnancy don't tend to drink, women who are former alchoholics or the children of alchoholics also don't tend to. so in actual fact, they have to put a correction on their actual results to account for that.

ChunkyPickle Thu 15-Nov-12 13:52:32

I went and took a look at the study, and there were a couple of lines that made me look at the data - and here's an interesting thing, if you look at table 3 you'll see that nondrinking mothers had children with an average IQ around 103 (changed depending on the number of a particular gene whatsit they had).

Drinking mothers children had IQs with averages ranging from 107 to 105 for the different numbers of gene whatsits - so whilst yes, there was an effect on the drinking mother's children if they had more of the gene thingies, they started from a higher point.

Now obviously, this could be skewed a bit - there are fewer non-drinking than drinking mothers, the drinking mothers were very slightly older, and a bit better educated for instance (if I recall correctly), but drinking == bad isn't quite what the study shows at all I think - more that drinking with more of the gene modifications has a bigger effect. Which is what a lot of people suspected anyway.

TheSmallPrint Thu 15-Nov-12 14:02:08

Every thing that AndiMac said. There are just too many variables to take into account not least of which is 'massaging the truth' about consumption.

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 14:15:44

I heard this story on the radio news today. Of course it was blown well out of proportion with no specific information given. It honestly was something like "a new study warns mothers not to touch even a drop of alcohol of alcohol as it could impact on their child's intelligence". Expect more news coverage and distortion in the next few days.

SquealyB Thu 15-Nov-12 14:36:39

No harm in doing more research into things and making the information available.

I think it is important to note that many tests on alcohol consumption during pregnancy have demonstrated the following (i) heavy drinking during pregnancy has lasting affects on child and (ii) moderate drinking (1-2 units per week) may have an affect onchild, and if there is any ill affect it does not appear to be significant.

One thing is for sure, I am on the pro-choice band wagon on this one. Women are intelligent people capable of making their own decisions based on what it right for them and their child. We are all capable of assessing risk and drawing our own conclusions. One pregnant friend of mine is moving nursery location in house due to location on wifi hub. I think this is poppycock but respect her right to choose which advise to listen to and which to discard and try not judge her for it.

Well said, andi.

When I was pregnant with DS a mere 2 years ago, the advise was that 1 - 2 units of wine a week actually produced children that were more intelligent, and less prone to hyperactivity.

I have had a very, very occassional glass or red or fizz throughout my pregnancies. My DS is, according to the nursery, health visitors, and the more biased family and friends, exceptionally bright.

I refuse to feel guilty about something they'll likely change in another 2 years, just like every other advice that's been given out.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 14:51:50

I too drank moderately during pregnancy. Did i think it was actually a "good" thing? No, of course I didn't! Am I now concerned - you betcha! This is a seriously well done study, I don't think we can quibble with their results (the teams are very experiences of course they controlled for other factors - i even read the paper!)

Can I ask whether 1.8 IQ points makes any difference at all to a child's life chances? I accept their results are statistically significant but what about the clinical relevance? The press release goes on about how people of lower IQ do worse in life, die earlier etc but seriously what difference does it make if your IQ was 90 and its now 88 because your mother drank? Or at the other end does having a meagre IQ score of 150 mean you'll be doomed to work in MacDonald's because it would have been 152 if your mother hadn't drunk?

BTW i looked up IQ on wikipedia(!) and using the version of the test that this paper used it says there is a margin of error of 3 points!! That means that i would get a different score each time I sat the IQ test of, on average, 3 points... SO, as far as i can tell their finding that drinking drops child's IQ by 1.8 points is within the margin of error for the test itself.

So, I'm consoling myself that although we now have the best evidence yet that drinking during pregnancy is definitely bad for the child - the effect on IQ is not clinically significant and won't mean my children are sweeping the streets for a living. Or at least it won't be my fault if that what they chose to do!

bigbuttons Thu 15-Nov-12 14:58:35

One thing getting older teaches you is that every few years there is a new study that blows an old study out of the water. Then there is another study that does the same and it goes on.
They are now saying that NOT eating nuts during pregnancy actually increases the risk of a child developing allergies for example.
I think everything in moderation is ok tbh.

LIttleMcF Thu 15-Nov-12 15:00:50

I really loathe the 'if we tell women they can have two tiny drinks a week, some of them will think it's fine to drink their bodyweight in gin, so we'd better tell them all to not drink any alcohol, ever' feel that these studies seem to have.

There are so many potential variables here that I struggle to see why this research says anything tangibly new.

And the wide-eyed 'why would you ever take a risk with your baby's heath by having one single sip of alcohol' type of comment annoys me. I heard this aimed at a mother who'd had four sips of wine, from a mum who weaned her baby on Wotsits and weak tea.

I had a bit of wine in one pregnancy, none in the other.

Ive always said each to their own as it is with this sort of thing. Same with smoking during pregnancy.

Im 38 weeks pregnant, yes I smoke but havent touched a drop of alcohol since being pregnant, and about 4 months before finding out either.

I must also add that I've never judged anyone who has drank through pregnancy. Unless they have been absolutely bladdered and staggering around. I just dont fancy a drink, although if I did im sure I would have a small glass of rose

somuchforanindiansummer Thu 15-Nov-12 15:05:42

1.8 IQ points difference. FFS

Let's find another reason to berate and boss around women for something that actually makes negligible difference to children.


Please can we start a campaign on improving the behaviour of men with respect to family life? About 2 minutes on the relationship boards should give plenty of ideas as to how they can fuck around with our kids lives

<kicks furniture>

For those interested, the study was published in PlosOne, and open-access journal and you can read it for free here: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0049407

Personally, I have a lot of questions about the cohort in question and the method of alcohol measurement - it looks (at a glance) like alcohol quantities are self reported. My alcoholic parents would cheerfully self report "an occasional drink" so I'm personally a little skeptical of results. That said, I haven't finished reading the paper...

Lottapianos Thu 15-Nov-12 15:10:05

'Please can we start a campaign on improving the behaviour of men with respect to family life? About 2 minutes on the relationship boards should give plenty of ideas as to how they can fuck around with our kids lives'

<nods sagely and joins in with furniture-kicking>


Sick and tired of all this finger wagging too. I'm all in favour of research being made public but these negligible results get blown out of all proportion by the media and there's always a tone of 'listen to this you naughty girls' to it.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 15:13:15

thundernlightning - yes, alcohol consumption was self reported. The Children of the 90s study tended to use diaries as the main measure (rather than asking women at 18 weeks gestation to recall what they had consumed over the previous 18 weeks).

chocolateteabag Thu 15-Nov-12 15:14:38

This is a seriously well done study, I don't think we can quibble with their results (the teams are very experiences of course they controlled for other factors - i even read the paper!)

Tinkertills - previous posters are questioning the results - which if you do read the study itself are a bit hmm

They questioned ladies at 18 weeks pg on how many drinks they had over the previous 18 weeks. Seriously! I can't remember what I did last week, never mind 3 months ago. So it's based on memories - not actual lab conditions.

It's good to know what the real risks are, but this one is still very much a "it might be a risk" to have even 1 drink.

And 1.8 IQ points is nothing!

BartletForTeamGB Thu 15-Nov-12 15:15:28

If you read the study, it looks like each risk allele (each specific genetic mutation) contributes 1.8 IQ points each, so:

Public Health Implications

If real these results could have important public health consequences, because cognitive ability has implications for social trajectories and health. It is well documented that individuals with lower IQ have lower socio-economic positions and poorer adult health and even higher mortality rates compared with those with higher IQs [46]–[48]. Whilst the effects of genotype appear modest, 3.5 points difference on the WISC scale for those children with &#8804;2 risk alleles compared to those with 4+ risk alleles, it is important to remember that these are effects for genotypes which are likely to result in very small differences in peak alcohol levels and alcohol exposure, and these subtle metabolic effects are among women drinking less than 1 unit of alcohol per day. Larger causal effects are anticipated for more substantial differences in fetal alcohol exposure levels, for example the differences existing between offspring of mothers with moderate alcohol consumption and mothers abstaining.


Five variants in genes involved in alcohol metabolism amongst children and their mothers were associated with child’s cognitive ability at age 8 in a population-based study.

Associations between child’s genotype and outcome were only present among those whose mothers reported drinking alcohol in moderation during pregnancy. This suggests that, even amongst women drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, subtle changes in exposure to alcohol due to an ability to metabolise the substrate may be important, and offers some support to the hypothesis that even small amounts of alcohol in utero have an effect on future cognitive outcomes.

I think this research is interesting and helps inform women of the risks of alcohol, so I wouldn't take the daft view above that doing research is just to blame women, when it allows women to decide what risks they want to take. Life is full of risk, but evidence like this helps individuals to decide how they want to respond to that.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 15:15:29

Lottapianos - i agree! Eammon Holmes got the full force of my shaking fist this morning! Bloody media.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 15:16:22

The thing that jumped out at me was this:

One drink was specified as one unit of alcohol (corresponding to an ethanol content of approximately 8 grams), and women were asked to recall their frequency of drinking as never, <1 unit/week, &#8805;1 unit/week, 1–2 units/day, 3–9 units/day, or 10+ units/day.

As others have said, one drink was seen as a unit (when it could be three) and I don't understand how they are getting to 1-6 units of alcohol from the survey as it jumps from more than a unit a week up to 1-2 a day (7-14 in a week) as far as I can tell. I presume that anyone who said more than one a week but not 1-2 a day got classified as up to six units. But someone who drank 4 units twice a week wouldn't answer 'one to two a day'. As far as I can see, even the survey itself quantifies consumption so vaguely as to be meaningless. And that's before you get onto inaccuracy of recall and self editing, which studies suggest tend to result in under reporting of drinking rather than over reporting of it.

Lottapianos Thu 15-Nov-12 15:17:07

'Lottapianos - i agree! Eammon Holmes got the full force of my shaking fist this morning! Bloody media'

Oh I can just imagine that he was like a pig in sh!t over this. He loves a good spot of woman-blaming of a morning hmm Tosser.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 15:20:52

BartletForTeamGB - thanks for the clarification on the genetics! So its a decline of 1.8 IQ per allelle. But that difference of 3.5 IQ units between those with two risk allelles and those with 4 is only just outside the margin of error for the IQ test itself (3 points according to Wikipedia!).

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 15:21:55

There is no other way around self-reporting alcohol consumption. The real test to prove a link (randomised controlled trial - i.e. giving women weekly drinking or abstinence tagets) wouldn't be ethical as the authors point out early on.

Can a study with limitations tell us anything meaningful? Hell yes, most research papers are flawed in some way, incomplete, less than ideal.

Why was this study interesting? As the authors point out, and as we know on MN, there were some studies showing little/no impact of moderate drinking during pg. THis study shows a slightly different picture, so is interesting.

Should we be getting annoyed about women-bashing research etc? I don't think so. If I drank during pg, I would want to know as much information as possible about the effects on my unborn child. I still might choose to drink, but I want to be informed.

Is the difference in IQ significant? Given the numbers in the study I should say so. Do we give a shit about a 1.8 point difference? Up to the individual. It's not going to turn an Einstein into someone who can't do maths is it?

B1ueberryMuff1n Thu 15-Nov-12 15:24:57

1.8 of a point? hmm. i could have gone to oxford if my mum hadn't had those two sherries.

well, HOW do they measure it anyway? even if they take the parents' iqs, the genes they pass on to their child is not an exact science. unless those parents were to have a clone of the same child but to drrink for one pregnancy and not the other, then HOW could they possibly measure it? confused

TheCrackFox Thu 15-Nov-12 15:32:18

I think it is about time that the goverment put all pregnant women in giant cages, with food and water supplied the entire pregnancy as it is clear to me that women cannot possibly be trusted to incubate their babies properly.

People really think researchers are thick don't they?

chocolateteabag Thu 15-Nov-12 15:33:20

yy B1ueberryMuff1n
What about all the other influences on IQ? How you are raised etc. Too many variables confused

You can have a high IQ and still have no common sense.

If only they'd read this thread first. Then they'd have slapped their heads and thought "well why didn't we think of that?"

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 15:35:44

LeBFG - I totally agree that it is always going to be self reporting. But there are ways to make self reporting more accurate.

For a start, the categories people were asked to use could accurately say how many units they meant - greater than one unit a week but not as much as 1-2 units a day could mean 2 units a week, or it could mean 22 units all on a single night.

They could avoid the lazy one drink= one unit approach. I bet they said 'one small glass of wine' was a unit. The reality is often more like two. And small is very subjective.

To get a decent self reporting, you would have contemporaneous drinking diaries, and education on units so people stood a chance of recording accurately.

This survey data just seems to me to be so vague as to not really give you any genuine indication of how much these women were drinking. In which case it becomes pretty meaningless in terms of adding to the sum of knowledge.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 15:45:30

From the Children of the 90s website (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/news/2012/161.html)

The mothers’ alcohol intake was based on a questionnaire completed when they were 18 weeks’ pregnant. It included questions on the average amount and frequency of alcohol consumption before the current pregnancy, during the first trimester, and in the previous two weeks or at the time when they first felt the baby move. One drink was specified as one unit of alcohol.

Around 32 weeks of gestation the mother completed another questionnaire in which she was asked about her average weekday and weekend alcohol consumption, frowhich weekly intake was derived. Any woman who reported drinking, even if it was less than one unit per week either in the first trimester or when she felt the baby first move was classified as drinking during pregnancy.

At approximately 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, the women were also asked on how many days during the past month they had drunk two pints of beer (or the equivalent amount of alcohol). Any women who reported doing this on at least one occasion was classified as a binge drinker for the purposes of this analysis and were excluded.

The children’s IQ was tested when they were aged eight using a shortened version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children from which an overall age adjusted total score was derived.

Speaking about the findings, the report’s main author, Dr Sarah Lewis, said:

‘Our results suggest that even at levels of alcohol consumption which are normally considered to be harmless, we can detect differences in childhood IQ, which are dependent on the ability of the foetus to clear this alcohol. This is evidence that even at these moderate levels, alcohol is influencing foetal brain development.’

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 15:49:35

I'm not sure that's the point of the study Muffin. They cleverly used these alcohol metabolism genes to factor out those tricksey confounding factors like smoking, diet etc.

The take-home message for me is that some people are genetically more susceptible to alcohol damage than others, and in this sub-group moderate fetal exposure to alcohol is linked to lower IQ.

IQ tests have always been controversial, but I'm always stumped at how else we can measure cognitive powers.

ChunkyPickle Thu 15-Nov-12 16:05:06

This line is important - before you start even thinking about the rest of the problems:

For all categories of allele score, drinking during pregnancy was associated with a higher IQ score in the child.

so, you start with a higher average than the non-drinkers, then you knock off 1.8 points for every allele match.

The average IQ for a non drinker was 103. The average for a drinker matching less than two risk alleles was 107, 3 was 105 and 4 or more 104 - so, even for the people most affected by alcohol, they were still 1 point up on the non-drinkers!

Now obviously this is where the socio-economic stuff comes in - but it's still suggesting, that the alcohol did not have a detrimental affect compared to abstinence

PhallicGiraffe Thu 15-Nov-12 16:05:43

It's not surprising, alcohol is ultimately a poison. Can it really be so hard not to drink for 9 months?

Wingdingdong Thu 15-Nov-12 16:07:40

And on the other hand, stress in pregnancy also lowers IQ...


So what to do, eh? Have the glass of wine and lower your child's IQ by a couple of points or don't have it and lower your child's IQ by a couple of points? We may as well accept that our children are totally doomed and it's all our fault. hmm

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 16:09:45

Yes, I see your points Scream -

One, why didn't they refine the categories further? No idea.

Two, why didn't the educate the participants and encourage diary keeping? Generally a good idea with this sort of study. I do wonder in this case (where everyone is wary of drinking alcohol in pg) whether this would have 'primed' the participants? By keeping a diary they would have drunk less - by being told and shown what a unit was would have had an effect on how they later drank?

The key thing is not all drinkers groups had children with lowered IQ - this only occurred in groups who were genetically more susceptible.

Also, I'm sure that many of the abstinent group would also have lied...i.e. would have drunk just a little bit. Despite this, there is still a really, really convincing statistical difference between the drinkers/non-drinkers.

midseasonsale Thu 15-Nov-12 16:14:14

I have also read research/studies that state that a couple of glasses a week are fine. I was never interested in drinking though.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 16:18:13

Looking at the study again LeBFG, the data on drinking comes from questionnaires completed for births in 91/92. I realise there will always be a long lead time to measure 8 year olds, but this data set is 20 years old. I suspect that the scientists wanted to carry out this study and tried to find a data set to use, so settled on this one and had no input into the quality of data.

I do take your point about susceptibility. I just think it is a shame that they focus on the idea of moderate drinking, when in fact their data doesn't really tell them whether it was moderate or heavy drinking they are measuring.

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 16:19:55

Yes, the study is not ideal. I'm surprised that as little as 1-6 drinks a week would have had an effect though <I drank a little in my last pg>.

TinkerTills Thu 15-Nov-12 16:24:00

LeBFG "Despite this, there is still a really, really convincing statistical difference between the drinkers/non-drinkers".

I agree with you. But i'm still at a loss to what this actually means for the child. What does an reduced IQ of 7.2 points mean for the child? 9 instead of 10 GCSEs? or No GCSEs at all. I guess it depends on the baseline IQ (and how the frick do you measure something that never was).

I'm not in the researcher bashing business - i think this is as solid a piece of work as is probable in this area. But given that I drank "moderate" amounts during pregnancy I would like to know what the real world effect will be on my children. Science should be placed in context. The researchers have done a bad job of translating the effect into terms that mean something to the wider world.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 16:25:29

But that's kind of my point. They don't know it did. They know that they had a group who presumably answered that they drunk more than one unit a week (not at least one unit a day), where a drink was a unit. Given this was 20 years ago when attitudes to alcohol in pregnancy were more laid back, it could be that the vast majority of their data set drank more like 5-10 units a week. They just can't be sure.

It is very interesting to know there may be an effect and there may be genetic susceptibility, but I just can't see the extra step of saying that there is an effect at 1-6 units.

Jane054848 Thu 15-Nov-12 16:29:09

Even if true, this is about a 1.5% difference! This is really completely insignificant. Has anyone really suffered in life from being 1.5% less intelligent than they might have been?

Another study said that being born in August (like my kids) is supposed to make life outcomes 20% worse than if they were born in September. If I'd known the results of both these surveys before my pregnancies I would have started them a few weeks later and then drunk like a fish.

higgle Thu 15-Nov-12 16:31:07

I was very lucky to develop a strong aversion to alcohol from before I even knew I was pregnant. Nature also wanted to protect me from the adverse effects of swede and cabbage.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 16:33:30

Nature protects me from the adverse affects of swede even when not pregnant <polishes halo>

topsi Thu 15-Nov-12 16:34:54

How much is 6 units? Three glasses of wine? That is quite alot to be honest.
Also is 1.8 IQ points statistcally significant?

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 16:43:56

Research papers are not good places to get 'real life' infomation from. THey report the facts, not what the facts might mean to a pg mother iyswim.

Jane: I know of two id twins. They are in their 60's with very different life outcomes. They are similar in lots of ways too of course. But small differences in environment throughout the life of an individual can build up to make a bigger difference.

So your mum drinking in pg may drop your IQ a bit - then she didn't bf. Then you had an unhealthy diet and you were born in August so dropped back at school...smoked pot at uni...drank 8 units a week through your 20's. You get my drift.

Scream: whatever the real life consumption of alcohol was in these women, the accuracy in reporting must have been the same for all groups. However, some drinkers' babies did NOT drop in IQ. Other drinkers' babies did. This shows an effect of alcohol consumption for what was probably what we would define as in the realms of moderate.

DiamondDoris Thu 15-Nov-12 16:45:08

I drank a little after 5 months - that was the advice at the time. Trouble is it keeps changing. A greater danger IMO is eating a lot of sugary things, I think I put a strain on my DD's pancreas who went onto developing diabetes at age 4. I thought a decaffeinated coffee and a slice of cake was being good (smoked then and had given up with both pregnancies).

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 16:46:44

topsi Thu 15-Nov-12 16:34:54

How much is 6 units? Three glasses of wine? That is quite alot to be honest.
Also is 1.8 IQ points statistcally significant?

Three glasses a week is not a lot. This is moderate, but not low, alcohol consumption.

When you have groups as large as in this study the drop in IQ may be small but is certainly statistcally significant.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 16:56:59

topsi - you're using the current definition of a unit of alcohol (where it's a specific measure and there can be more than one unit in a drink).

The researchers defined a unit of alcohol as one drink, so each drink could easily have had 2 or more units - particularly if people were drinking at home where it's much harder to judge and people notoriously underestimate what constitutes a "glass" of wine or a single measure of spirits (for eg).

So, it's 6 servings of alcohol they were looking at, which could be 18 units of alcohol if they were large glasses of 14% red wine.

Although, later on they asked the participants a question about "2 pints of beer" to attempt to exclude binge drinkers which would have got rid of some of the bottle-of-wine-is-only-3-glasses people..

CinnabarRed Thu 15-Nov-12 17:00:53

ReindeerBollocks: I drank a hell of a lot the weekend before I tested three weeks ago (had no idea I was pregnant and only tested due to DH's suggestion - I wasn't late). This has me worried, especially since it would normally be within the first trimester that this matters most.

I did something really similar and panicked. However, I then discovered that at the time I was drinking my baby hadn't even implanted into my womb. It was a free-floating bunch of cells deriving all of its energy and nutrients from its own internal resources. It had no connection to me and my drinking couldn't have conceivably caused an effect. IIRC, which I might not do exactly, the cells implant at 24 days after conception. I hope this puts your mind at rest.

SHRIIIEEEKPoolingBearBlood: People really think researchers are thick don't they?.

I don't, but I do think that media reports sometimes grossly distort the facts of research and that people don't understand statistics very well at all!

SquealyB Thu 15-Nov-12 17:03:35

Reality is , as other posters have said, is that although you are talking about establishing base line IQ when growing the baby, which is important, genetics and nuture will play a much more signficant role in your child's likely IQ than a few glasses of wine. This is not to denigrate importance of studys like this, simply to put them in the proper context.

So if you are sitting at home beating yourself with the bad mother stick and wondering whether you have ruined your child's chances of being the next PM (not that high IQ appears to be a prerequisite these days wink), to be head of X law firm, or to invent a cure for cancer etc. rest assured that:

(i) selecting a genetically sound partner (which we rightly have little control over do not screen for for obvious scary social engineer issues) and

(ii) providing your child with the right education, outside school learning, positive environment and general social skills (which we can and do control)

Will probably have a much greater impact on their IQ (and their happiness in later life which is not all about IQ) than a few glasses of wine while pregnant.

So chill out and drink up wink.

SquealyB Thu 15-Nov-12 17:10:31

within moderation, naturally.

AmberSocks Thu 15-Nov-12 17:13:15

tbh i see alcohol in the same way i do ciggarettes and other drugs,i wouldnt have it when pregnant.i have a feeling in the future it will be viewed how smoking is now,lots of people used to smoke during pregnnancy.

This is completely annecdotal, but I know someone who drank heavily throughout her pregnancy (she's a functioning alcoholic sad). Fortunately her DD does not appear to have dropped too many IQ points as she's very bright indeed.

Personally though I avoided alcohol like the plague with my PFB, although I did ski and scuba dive! I had the odd drink with my second baby though, but was horrified by the idea of skiing and diving. It's funny how your perception of risk alters between pregnancies.

I am so sorry about the awful spelling on that post blush

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 17:19:58

Lots of people still smoke during pregnancy. The proportion of pregnant women who smoke is very similar to the proportion of smokers in the general population (around 23% I think) as it's very, very hard to give up.

Occasional drinking in pregnancy is possibly the same as smoking a couple of cigarettes a week, but that's where smoking and drinking differ as it's quite hard to be a very occasional smoker. Although some people are and their babies are probably at minimal increased risk of low birthweight as a result.

But who knows really, and of course people are able to decide for themselves what sort of risks they are willing to tolerate, and this adds to the information we have when we calculate these risks for ourselves.

AmberSocks Thu 15-Nov-12 17:23:20

for me i just imagine that everything i put into my mouth my baby is getting.its not rocket science to see that alcohol and fags wouldnt be the best thing to put in there.it might not even harm then but its not going to help.

CinnabarRed Thu 15-Nov-12 17:23:59

Reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague when pregnant with DS1. We were on a boozy work night out.

Colleague: Go on, just one glass of wine
Me: I'm alright thanks [had already had a small glass of champagne before dinner]
Colleague: The white goes really well with this <<points fork at plate>>
Me: I'm sure it does! But I've had enough.
Colleague: Because you're pregnant?
Me: Yup
Colleague: Honestly, it's all exaggerated. My best friend, she drank half a bottle of wine every day when she was pregnant and she was fine.
Me: Really? That's a lot. No ill effects for the baby at all?
Colleague: Well, to be fair the baby was premature and underweight. But my friend was fine. Go on, one more won't hurt...

AmberSocks Thu 15-Nov-12 17:24:44

having said that,you can take it to extremes,a womanin subway refused to sell me a coffee when i was 9 months pregnant with dc2.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 17:24:55

If that makes you feel better about the risky state of affairs that is pregnancy then that's a good plan for you.

MrsHuxtable Thu 15-Nov-12 17:31:55

My theory is that woman who don't drink at all in pregnancy generally have a higher IQ to begin with so their offspring do to.

Or did all mothers who took part in the study have the same IQ?

TheCountessOlenska Thu 15-Nov-12 17:32:39

Gosh AmberSocks I think I would get really depressed if I saw myself as nothing but a baby incubator for 9 months!

Each to their own but I'm sticking to my rules of everything in moderation grin

prettybird Thu 15-Nov-12 17:38:07

I am still comfortable with my decision to reduce the quantity and up the quality of the wine that I drank while pregnant with ds - having abstained completely weeks 4 to 10. I did this with the complete agreement of my GP.

Nothing I have read since (including this research) has convinced me that, on balance, I put ds at risk. As my best friend (herself a GP and mother of 4) said: a happy mum is just as important to the health of the baby.

By "reduced quantity" I mean one medium glass (probably 1.5 units), three times a week at most.

The range for "moderate" drinking in this research seems to be way beyond what most people would consider moderate - and even then the result is questionable at best (with even the researchers saying it warranted more investigation) - and with an effect that is not only barely statistically significant for a small number who have this apparent susceptible gene confused

MrsHux, my IQ is mensa level, and I drank (only a little, but still did nonetheless) in pregnancy. So I disagree with your theory.

prettybird Thu 15-Nov-12 17:53:25

hmm Not sure about that theory MrsH. The (few) people I know who abstained totally had lower IQs than me. I was one of the top 6 in my school, who all got 6As at Higher (most schools only allow you to sit 5). They all went off to medical or vet school but I wanted to study languages so went off to a different Uni. I'm presuming my GP best friend must have a reasonable IQ wink (I only met her at Uni) - she had the odd calming drink grin

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 17:54:20

I think the study actually says that the abstainers in their group actually had lower IQ than the drinkers.

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 17:55:32

I'm with you guys about the message of relax and a few glasses a week in the scheme of things etc etc.

But I do get a bit annoyed when people trash research they don't like. This paper showed a strongly significant effect. The difference was small but very real. The drinkers' ages were 29.7 +/-4.4 and abstainers' ages were 28.4 +/-4.5 - so really very close.

BraaaaaainsButterfield Thu 15-Nov-12 18:14:28

It is annoying when people pull research to bits. Honestly, all the things people bring up are considered when designing the study. It's hard work, you know! They don't just print off a couple of hundred questionnaires and leave it at that.

Hmm. I've always been dubious about the accuracy of IQ tests, having sat a few of them myself. Things I can remember of them :
. Pick the synonym of this word from this list of four - favpurs people with a wide vocabulary.
. Which of these four diagrams is the mirror image of this one - favours those with good spatial awareness.

In short, I don't believe they measure intelligence. I'm not sure intelligence CAN be measured objectively. So a 1.8 points 'difference'? Meh.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 15-Nov-12 18:17:49

So is a drinking mother who then does not breastfeed going to have a really dim baby then.....

"It is annoying when people pull research to bits. Honestly, all the things people bring up are considered when designing the study."
Well at uni I was told that I SHOULD pull research to bits, on the basis that it is of variable quality. Researchers are as human as the rest of us, they make mistakes, cling to preconceptions and are biased. And are sometimes funded by organisations with an agenda.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 18:20:47

Researchers expect their research to be pulled to bits. They (should) write their papers so that it's clear what they have considered and what they haven't.

There are a lot of poorly written papers (I don't think this is one btw) which don't do justice to the research, or which over or underestimate its significance.

Press offices which release details of studies like this to the general media do so to raise the profile of their institutions and research and it's A Good Thing for the public to have access to the research behind the headlines - they did publish it in an open access journal after all.

LineRunner Thu 15-Nov-12 18:21:12

Another 'meh'. And I'm a sciencey person.

BrianButterfield Thu 15-Nov-12 18:29:35

Yes, of course they expect it to be pulled to bits by other researchers who have read the whole paper. Not people online who have read a very paraphrased article.

Sderiously Brian, you think only other researchers are qualified to assess research hmm? You don't think that might be a bit patronising and an example of why non-researchers take researchers with a pinch of salt ?

LineRunner Thu 15-Nov-12 18:37:19

For all you know Brian I might be a world expert in a related field. <taps side of nose>

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 18:38:58

Well, two people have linked to the full text of the article so I suspect quite a few people commenting on here have read the whole paper hmm.

You're right though, you can't really comment on the research from a press release which has been paraphrased by a journalist. Which is why it's so annoying that newspapers like the Guardian persist in being too lazy to link to the original research, especially when its freely available like this particular paper.

snowmummy Thu 15-Nov-12 18:46:45

I can't comment on the research or its validity but given that there is and always has been discussion about the effects of alcohol on unborn babies then my opinion is that it is a risk not worth taking. I can manage nine months without a drink and the risk, however small or however unproven, is just not worth it for me.

TurquoiseTranquility Thu 15-Nov-12 19:08:40

I don't mean to upset anyone, but I always thought the NHS guidelines on drinking in pregnancy were far too liberal. I suppose the logic (at least partially) was that they didn't want to alienate the "naughtier" among their patients so had to embrace it somehow. I was dumbstruck to find out my current MW advises that alcohol is "best avoided at all costs" but if you MUST drink don't exceed 1-2 units per week and only from 2nd trimester onwards. All advice I heard during my previous pregnancy was that drinking is perfectly fine, so long as you don't get pissed. They've certainly revised their guidelines.

That said, this may be the start of a political anti-drinking campaign, BUT I still think the less the better. After all, different people have different levels of the alcohol-dehydrogenase enzymes, i.e. a different capacity to break down alcohol befor it poisons you, AND these levels change throughout your life, so however brilliant you may think your body is with alcohol you never know when your liver's had enough. TBH there's more to life than drinking wink and chocolate/desserts are as good at reducing stress, IMHO grin

off to bake an apple pie wink

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 19:10:39

The problem is people are apparently 'pulling apart' this article when in actual fact it's really very good.

There is always the problem with IQ tests - but how else do you measure cognitive ability and compare it?

redyellowgreen Thu 15-Nov-12 19:14:43

If people focused more on more important health issues during pregnancy (keeping active, being a healthy weight,not living off crap and not smoking) and then on increasing breastfeeding rates, we'd have much healthier children than crucifying mums who dare to have a glass or two of wine whilst pregnant...

redyellowgreen Thu 15-Nov-12 19:17:05

Oh and add to the no drinking message the 'no getting in a car', 'no crossing the road', and 'no using sharp instruments whilst cooking' message. Think they all pose a greater risk to my baby's health than a few sips of wine every now and again....

bigkidsdidit Thu 15-Nov-12 19:19:03

I'm fascinated by the fact that, as a starting point, the offspring of drinkers had a higher iq than of the abstainers. I wonder why this is?

merrymouse Thu 15-Nov-12 19:19:53

I'm confused - the article says that as little as 2 units a week can harm the foetus, but then says that 'moderate drinkers' were grouped as people who drank from 2-6 units. Did the researchers compare the effect of 2 units to 6 units, or clarify how many of the group of moderate drinkers had 6 rather than 2 units?

[And were people being really honest about the number of units they were drinking...]

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Thu 15-Nov-12 19:22:38

Yup, I have read the whole paper (though not all the footnotes and links). Not a researcher, but I do have some scientific academic background years ago and my current profession involves a lot of critical analysis.

I don't think this is a poorly written paper. And I don't think 1.8 IQ points is 'not a big deal'. I think it is a generally good, very interesting paper which is being hysterically reported.

But I do think that the authors could have been more circumspect in translating their data into '1-6 units per week'. Ignoring self reporting errors and the fact that it was retrospective (and I do accept that diaries may prime the sample), because I accept you cannot randomise this type of trial, the fact is that that is simply not what their data told them.

Their data told them that they had a set of women who had reported drinking at least one drink a week, but not daily. That is a far wider band of drinking, a lot of it beyond what people would generally call moderate. Their headline findings confidently refer to 1-6 units a week, but their data set (which was not their fault and was the result of a badly written survey was answer options were badly phrased) was more like 1-15 units (working with the one drink equals one unit assumption). For example, a women who had drunk 3 units five times a week would have been in this answer bracket, but not a daily drinker or a binge drinker. But they had no way of knowing how the women were distributed across that continuum.

As I said, interesting research, but I would have liked this more fully acknowledged.

redyellowgreen Thu 15-Nov-12 19:23:49

And, purely anecdotally, my mum and my MIL both drank small amounts during pregnancy (maybe 1-2/wk). DH and I both have First class degrees from Cambridge.

So my concern is limited....

<can you tell I'm pregnant and need to have a hormonal rant??!>

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 19:47:16

So because you can't see my white lab coat, my questions with regards to the methods used in the report should be disregarded?

I agree it's a thorough report; most of my questions were answered when someone gave the link to it. However, that doesn't mean that my questions should be disregarded. It's not just myself who has raised issues with how they counted the number of alcohol units and these are valid concerns that would be raised by "scientizts" and not just a forum user.

I raised these questions because I know to ask them, coming from a scientific background, and others might not have thought to consider them. Therefore, it helped to balance out what was otherwise a very skewed media report.

As I said right at the start, I don't think women need yet another possibly skewed (or at least misappropriated by the media) report to tell women how to behave during pregnancy.

Matsikula Thu 15-Nov-12 20:03:00

Surely though the purpose of the report is not to provide a handy sliding scale 'if you drink x then you will lose x IQ points' but to demonstrate that there is a risk of harm. Which it does seem to.

Agree that the definition of 'moderate' is problematic, but those surveys the midwives give you are rubbish. I could not truthfully say that I was not drinking at all, but I would have been lumped in with the next band up (1-6 units per week) when the truth was more like 3 or 4 units a month at the most. The NHS need to change those questionnaires!

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 20:06:50

Yeah, but given your first post Andi, you weren't raising valid concerns about the report. The clever design controls for lots of the factors you raised.

It seems to me people are analysing this paper with biased-glasses on.

As I already said, not all drinker groups had an effect on their offspring. However poorly the drinking was measured, it was measured the same way in all drinker groups.

Given the difficult nature of this sort of research they have got some solid results. I'm sure more will be done in the same vein - with improved design, yes.

CinnabarRed Thu 15-Nov-12 20:10:32

It seems to me people are analysing this paper with biased-glasses on.

Beer goggles, presumably.... grin

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 20:11:39

damn - i missed that one grin

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 20:20:46

A couple of salient points having re-read how they measured alcohol intake:

One drink was specified as one unit of alcohol (corresponding to an ethanol content of approximately 8 grams) seems fine to me. If woman says she drinks three large glasses of red wine, they weren't going to record 3 units based on this sentence.

Any woman who reported drinking even if it was less than 1 unit/week either in the first trimester or when they felt the baby first move was classified as drinking during pregnancy. - so even if some women drank more than 6 units and were included in this study, many more very light drinkers were also lumped into the drinkers category. Yet they still found a significant difference.

AnaisB Thu 15-Nov-12 20:27:00

red just think of the heights you could have reached if they'd abstained.

1.8 units - isn't that similar to the IQ advantage that a coffee can give you?

gloucestergirl Thu 15-Nov-12 20:42:03

Has there been any research into the amount a man drank 3 months prior to conception and the effect on the subsquent child? As far as I could find, there is very little research on the man's behaviour. He contributes the sperm of course, which is continually produced. The quality of the sperm and its genetic material is affected by alcohol consumption, diet, stress, etc. (So obvious everyone knows it already.) So why very little research into a man's contribution to little junior being less than perfect?

And another thing: Will anyone ever do a study that shows the effect of the absence of stress on the baby. A work-free pregnancy with fully funded maid service and massages? Doubt it. 'They' love to investigate what fun things will harm little boyo, but 'they' aren't too keen on allowing us to put our feet up when pregnant. I had one glass a wine a week when pregnant, I also did nothing but work and sleep. I bet which one has had the greatest impact on my child.

No doubting that it is a good research paper. But the original idea comes from the mind of scientist - a human being - who wants a 'sexy' idea that will generate funding. Funding being decided by other human beings. All these human beings are just as suspectible to prejudices, fashions and stereotypes as non-scientists. As a scientist who works in research I know. Yes, scientists do describe certain research topics as 'sexy'. And a researcher on the hunt for grant money can become so money-obsessed that they'd make a banker blush.

In a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is: Yes, research into foetal development needed, but in more illuminating directions than re-inforcing the stereotype of women being inefficient incubators of babies. Men and society also play a role.

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 20:43:20

The only alcoholic drinks that contain 1 unit of alcohol is a pub measure of spirits. Sure, you can pour yourself a glass of wine that contains one unit - it's much, much smaller than people realise.

Why would they say that they were counting one drink as a unit if they were actually counting one drink as several units depending on what drink had been consumed? Do we have any evidence from the the paper that the questionnaire actually captured information about what drinks had been consumed? Apart from the time that they asked about people drinking more than 2 pints of beer in a week.

AndiMac Thu 15-Nov-12 20:43:51

LeBFG, all my concerns were valid until there was a link showing the results of and that most of the points were considered in the report. After that, yes, many of my questions were answered in the report, but not all. Still haven't seen the result that says at what age the children were tested at (meaning within how many months after their 8th birthday and whether this was the same for every child measured), which also could influence results.

avenueone Thu 15-Nov-12 20:55:14

The money used for this research could have been much better spent IMO. I found it very uncomfortable viewing watching men coming out with all this `evidence'. People once said they had `evidence' the world was flat. My Mum drank an iron enriching alcoholic drink a day when pregnant with me. I have a very high IQ. If my DS has dropped 1.8 it may be for the best as he already knows everything according to him ;-)

sleepyhead Thu 15-Nov-12 20:57:53

Well, to be absolutely fair, it's not just men coming out with this particular piece of research. There are 12 authors and at least 7 of them are female, including the first two.

I started reading the study but lost the will to complete it. Another day perhaps.

I'm just miserable because flawed or accurate, useful or misleading, I'm pretty sure how this will be publicised, misquoted and abused and used as a reason to TELL women what to do with themselves during pregnancy, rather than leaving them to their own rational adult decision making. And people have forgotten to question how wrong it is to do this.

Some batty old GP was bleating on the radio about this today "It's what I've always told my ladies...NO drinking and NO smoking...etc" Like her patients were a reception class of five year olds who needed to be told to sit down quietly, and do as they were told.


well said gloucestergirl

prettybird Thu 15-Nov-12 21:09:25

Brilliant post gloucestergirl.

I'm sitting here drinking a very nice "small" glass of wine (by current pub measures). It's 14% alcohol - so is at least 2 units. smile wine. A single unit of 14% alcohol wine would be c.70ml - tiny - barely enough to wet your gullet grin

MontBlanc Thu 15-Nov-12 21:14:53

gloucestergirl says it all really. How many of us have worked ourselves half dead up until we were about to drop to get everything done and leave things in order with no maternity cover to hand-over to?

That's not relevant though is it. Being made to feel guilty about that small glass of wine you had to keep yourself sane is... sigh.

BrianButterfield Thu 15-Nov-12 21:24:55

It might be a "sexy" topic but if they did find measurable harm surely it's an easy fix in many ways - it is very possible for women to abstain totally as many already do, and more might choose to do so if they found real evidence that it was 'worth' doing. It's not really possible for women to give up work, etc, however. A study that found out that women were best not working might be thought-provoking but with the best will in the world its finding could never be implemented. I don't think it's to make women feel guilty. Surely we have a duty to find out solid facts even if we don't personally like those findings?

avenueone Thu 15-Nov-12 21:25:53

I said watching sleepyhead as in on TV.

EdgarAllanPond Thu 15-Nov-12 21:29:08

also, they did survey drinking habits prior to preganncy, have they considered that possibly it is your lifetime habit that is determinate?

I got drunk twice weekly for ten years prior to sprogging. my ovaries were present the whole time. might that not have an effect also?

i think more intelligent women drank marginally more because they are more likely to say screw the guidelines, having looked into the extant research themselves.

prettybird Thu 15-Nov-12 21:31:38

What about the very real risk of DVT when pregnant? Doesn't wine have a blood thinning effect?

It's all a balance of risks. To drive or not to drive? To eat salad or not to eat salad. To eat meat or not to eat meat. To eat fish or not to eat fish. To eat cheese or not to eat cheese. To drink coffee or not to drink coffee. To drink tea or not drink tea. To garden or not to garden. To touch pets or not to touch pets. The list goes on......

LIttleMcF Thu 15-Nov-12 21:48:56

My mum was strongly advised to drink 'at least half a pint of Guiness each night.' My sisters are both doctors, and one an internationally recognised leader in her field. And by God, I'm brilliant too.

A woman can live, unchallenged, on highly processed, nutrition-free, salty, fatty crap food for nine months, but woe betide her poor baby's brain if she has half a glass of wine.

There's other research I'd like to see to be honest.

Nuttyprofessor Thu 15-Nov-12 22:19:51

You cannot guarantee it is safe you don't drink it. Quite simple really

Woozley Thu 15-Nov-12 22:23:20

I think if I had another child, I'd carry on as in previous pregnancies and have 1-2 drinks a week. My personal 'findings' were that it was rather beneficial and did no harm whatsoever.

Callipygian Thu 15-Nov-12 22:28:54

Ugh. Statistical illiteracy.
1. So the effect isn't -1.8, but -1.64.
2. The study doesn't take into account the parent's IQ, which determines 75-85% of the child's IQ.
3. The effect is smaller than the change in IQ between child and adult.
4. The effect is smaller than the variance between different IQ tests on the same person.
5. The effect is smaller than the variance between taking the SAME IQ TEST on different occasions.

Matsikula Thu 15-Nov-12 22:31:22

I think the research would have been quite useful for me to guilt trip my husband into joining me not drinking. Much easier to abstain totally if you don't have someone tucking into a nice cold beer at the dinner table thinking you are being over-cautious.

Come on scientists, what about a nice quick bit of research saying that women whose partners did not drink while they were pregnant found it easier to cut out alcohol?

Matsikula Thu 15-Nov-12 22:39:15

Callypigian - why do you assume that the variance in the IQ test would always be in one direction? And only apply to the drinkers? All the IQ tests would have had the same liability to be inaccurate, so surely if you do them across large enough groups, the testing problems iron themselves out.

Woozley Thu 15-Nov-12 22:51:27

When I did Psychology A Level, I learned that IQ tests are very good at telling you who is good at IQ tests. #Justsaying

birdofthenorth Thu 15-Nov-12 22:53:13

I find having zero alcohol when pg (inc now) perfectly easy for some reason, even though I do drink moderately when not pg. I find cutting down on caffeine when pg much harder, and also avoiding alcohol when breast feeding.

I think in an ideal world we would all happily steer clear of anything that carries any risk -but then we are all human. I have been pregnant or ttc for 18 months now (two mcs) which is quite a long time to behave like a saint, and I am conscious it's much longer for others!

I think reports like this are probably helpful though, especially at increasing social understanding and therefore reduce pressure on women to drink -we had dinner with a friend the other day who had bought low alcohol wine in in my honour -4%- but I didn't want low alcohol wine, I wanted no wine.

Callipygian Thu 15-Nov-12 22:56:05

Matsikula - that's true, but my point was that the effect is so small that you can't actually measure it on an individual's IQ test. It's definitely not enough to affect your life outcomes.

Matsikula Thu 15-Nov-12 23:00:11

Fair point, but it makes me think I need to go back on the fish oil for the sake of my breast fed baby. Which won't do anyone any harm.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Thu 15-Nov-12 23:04:53

Callipygian Thu 15-Nov-12 23:18:37

Matsikula - That shouldn't harm anything. Personally i'm 16 weeks now and i had a small glass of red on my husbands birthday a few weeks ago but apart from that i havent found it hard to give up. I was never a heavy drinker. I'm planning on having a glass of wine with christmas dinner too. With regards to what you said about your husband i know where your coming from, ive asked mine to only drink beer (as i dont like it anyway so i dont feel like im missing out). He's given up wine.

I have read the studies and agree that heavy drinking can harm development, but i honestly believe the reason the NHS has a blanket ban is that there are lots of women who cant stop at a small glass of wine.

What was interesting in this study is that they say that women with certain genes actually raise the IQ of their child through moderate drinking (the statistical significance of this is just as dubious as the rest of the study). People who are able to hold their drink seem to do less harm (and maybe benefit) the baby. Bizarrely the study removed anyone who wasn't white from their sample - I believe that there are genes more present in some racial groups that improve/worsen the persons ability to metabolise alcohol -- perhaps this was too much variation for the study..

redyellowgreen Fri 16-Nov-12 00:08:43

Awesome gloucester - has Brian read your post...??!

I know Anais - I blame my mum ;). And DD and my unborn baby are probably entitled to blame her too: after all the eggs they came from were grown whilst she was poisoning her body and daring to choose what she ate and drank rather than waiting for a nice patronising (probably male) doctor to dictate it for her...

Everything in pregnancy is a possible risk: it's a case of weighing up what you're comfortable with. As I've said before, I'd worry much more about the baby of a mum who ate crap, did no exercise and formula fed from birth than about someone who had a small amount of alcohol every so often.

Ihavenobum Fri 16-Nov-12 00:13:35

Hello, I drank quite heavily while on holiday before finding out I was pregnant. My Ds is 7 and has just undertaken cognitive assessments, one test being the wisc iv which showed him to be well above average for his verbal comprehension and superior for his perceptual reasoning but his working memory is average and processing speed below average range he is also below low average for his emotional literacy, he has a problem with one of his eyes (but this could be due to genetics, I had the same problem when younger). As soon as I found out I was pregnant I stopped drinking and took pregnacare vitamins and he was also breast fed...the thought that I could of hurt my boy eats away at me everyday, but it makes me wonder if that is why he is having the difficulties he is now....because of the drink.

LDNmummy Fri 16-Nov-12 01:09:21


I'm off to have that lovely cold beer that I've been eyeing in the fridge for two weeks.

Honestly, reading this has made me want a drink confused

Want2bSupermum Fri 16-Nov-12 02:39:52

I took the decision this time and last time to stop drinking as soon as I found out I was pregnant. For me this has nothing to do with IQ but with the fact that my doctor advised me not to and I don't handle alcohol well so thought it was a great idea to not drink.

Here in the US I have been sent to a dietician and found the advice helpful. I have changed my diet while pregnant. I have cut out artifical sweeteners, fizzy drinks and certain foods. I have cut back to one caffinated drink a day and watch my chocolate intake as this also contains caffine. I take my prenatals and watch my diet to ensure I am getting enough fruit and veg. I saw a different dietician this time and he said something interesting about it taking the body much longer to metabolize food we consume when pregnant with it taking about twice as long during the 2nd trimester and up to 3 times as long during the 3rd trimester. This was his reasoning for limiting caffine and artifical sweeteners.

All of this is my personal choice. If a mother chooses not to do these things then that is their choice. I also avoid anyone who smokes, mainly due to the fact it makes me nausious but also because I worry about the effects of 2nd hand smoke. Here in the US there aren't that many people who smoke compared to the UK. I do find it difficult to not judge those who smoke during pregnancy or around young children. It is just selfish, wrong and is close to child abuse in my opinion. The difference between alcohol and smoking is that there is conclusive evidence that smoking during pregnancy is bad for a baby while the evidence regarding alcohol consumption is weaker.

Brugmansia Fri 16-Nov-12 07:22:56

I haven't read the full study, but for those who have does anyone know how it compares to the one that was reported about 5-6 months ago which I think was Danish?

Obviously they were looking at slightly different things, but I recall it being similar in some ways as it was still about what could be described as more subtle developmental issues rather than FAS or similar. The comments at the time indicated that it was a well designed study and very thorough, as far as it could be.

From memory the Danish one looked at a wide range of developmental criteria following the children up to the age of 5. It concluded there was no adverse impact on the children with the mothers drinking up to 9 units a week and I vaguely recall that children of mothers who drank about 1-2 units a week were doing best.

gloomywinters2 Fri 16-Nov-12 08:35:37

read the thread it. i think it,s all about individual choice you either choose to follow it or you don,t my view is you have lfe growing in side you for nine months why would you risk it you,d what to give it the best possible start. that,s my personal choice.

gloomywinters2 Fri 16-Nov-12 08:38:31

life. want

prettybird Fri 16-Nov-12 08:43:44

I wonder if the research had shown that there was statistically insignificant increase in IQ correlated with moderate alcohol consumption, what the press people's reactions would be grin?


EggsMichelle Fri 16-Nov-12 08:49:43

I'm not normally one to be judgemental, and certainly would not wave my placard in someone's face, but if you can't stop drinking/smoking for 9months for the sake of giving your unborn baby the best start then that's a bit sad.

EasyToEatTiger Fri 16-Nov-12 08:57:41

I'm stunned that anyone has any children any more. I was advised that getting drunk whilst pg was a bad idea. A great many of us must be much thicker than we would otherwise have been had all this information been available before. All this scare-mongering is very tiresome and nearly always it's the woman's fault.

Brugmansia Fri 16-Nov-12 08:58:56

Well that is judgmental. If a woman genuinely can't control her drinking or smoking then she needs assistance not being looked down on. I think you'll find that for a lot of women who drink during pregnancy it is because they have made an informed choice having looked at as much evidence as they can find and concluded that a small glass of wine every few weeks or whatever is very very unlikely to cause any harm.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Fri 16-Nov-12 09:01:48

And maybe because, actually, drinking has become a stick to beat women with. As per Gloucestergirls strong post above.

EasyToEatTiger Fri 16-Nov-12 09:10:59

Do perfect incubation vessels result in perfect people? I reckon it all boils down to, we don't really know.

MrsEasingwood Fri 16-Nov-12 09:25:15

I'm with you NoVictim, if there's even a slight chance of it harming your baby you wouldn't do it, you wouldn't put alcohol in your babies bottle or give them alcohol once they were born so why do it beforehand?! I think it's a bit bizarre that people are even discussing it. What's the point in just having a few sips of wine? If you've tried and chosen to get pregnant you have to give up a few luxeries in life, and its only for 9-12 months and if you can't live for that long wthout alcohol.....

It's a benefit risk trade off. Drinking alcohol has benefits and therefore you need to decide whether the benefits are worth the risks. Obviously to do this you need an accurate understanding of the risks.

Did you make an attempt to cut down on the car journeys you made during pregnancy?

AndiMac Fri 16-Nov-12 09:44:18

The point isn't that one should stop or reduce drinking when pregnant. The point is that others shouldn't dictate how pregnant women should live their lives whilst pregnant.

As EasyToEatTiger says, would a perfect pregnancy result in a perfect person? No.

We all make choices during a pregnancy. Some choose to work the entire way through, some choose to keep eating unpasterized cheese. Some choose to keep running, some choose to fly away on holiday. Some choose to keep drinking, some choose to drive a car. Some choose to continue eating pombears rather than organic apples, some choose to eat tuna. All of these things are possible risks during pregnancy and although I am all in favour of information of risks being available, I am also very pro-choice about making your own decisions that are best for you and your own unborn child.

Some choose to get in a car for completely unnecessary journeys, eg to visit a friend. Presumably because they believe the pleasure they will get from that visit outweighs the risk.

LeBFG Fri 16-Nov-12 09:53:27

Sorry Glouster - you can't possibly say that this sort of research is about re-inforcing the stereotype of women being inefficient incubators of babies. I can't believe you think that's what science is about if you work in it. Scientists may be a grant-grabbing bunch now, but I've never mixed with a group of more open-minded, liberal individuals.

Some research has already been done into men's ages and effects on fertility etc. And stress too. Many things in fact. However, you can't get around the fact that babies spend the first nine most vulnerable months of their whole lives inside a woman's uterus. What women do during this time is important and interesting to know. Women have to be the major focus of foetal development research! It's crazy to think otherwise.

Andi: Forgive me for thinking you had misunderstood the report when you made a list of potential problems. When you made this comment:
I just don't think women need yet another possibly skewed study to tell them how to behave during pregnancy. I hadn't realised you hadn't even read the report!

It seems a bunch of MNers have got the feminsit bug and want to see all this type of research as 'women-bashing'. Why can't anyone see that these people might be trying to inform us? So we can make choices based on facts rather than pointless anecdotes?

LeBFG Fri 16-Nov-12 09:58:33

Oh, and when it comes to risks, you have to be able to assess those risks. TO do that you need facts. Science gives us facts. Based on these facts, most people cut down on drinking and smoking during pg and most people carry on driving as normal. In the past, pg was treated as an illness and women drank and smoked all the way through. We have made progress!

AndiMac Fri 16-Nov-12 10:06:46

LeBFG, I still have some issues with the report, having read it, which I've mentioned a couple of times already, so will spare everyone a third go. Now my concern with it will be how the media may spin it for a story, "women warned not to touch even a drop of alcohol" was what I heard on the news yesterday based on this report. Also how many others think that because this report has come out, it shows so many risks to drinking, why would you even think about drinking during pregnancy? Which of course, isn't how I would interpret this report.

I don't have a feminist bugbear about this report, I have a feminist bugbear about how it is interpreted with regards to pregnant women and their own choices.

Oh I agree LeBFG. Just making the point to people who are saying "Why would you touch a drop of alcohol?" that they also presumably do risky things because they feel the benefits outweigh the risks and that is their right.

TinkerTills Fri 16-Nov-12 10:11:35

The two main authors of the study are women - i doubt they deliberately set out to make us all feel like shit for drinking. However, they had a genuinely interesting question that really needed answering. We know that heavy drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. We know that abstinence will not harm a developing baby (in terms of toxins, use of alcohol as a stress reducer has been shown in some other observational studies). We do not know what effect moderate levels of drinking could have. Surely, as women we want to know the answer to this? I don't particularly like their conclusions - i drank during pregnancy! But to suggest that the authors are somehow out to beat women with the bad mother stick is just daft. As a feminist, and a scientist, i believe that it is society in general that wants to beat us.

As many posters have pointed out the data on alcohol consumption were not as perfect as they could have been, casting some uncertainty on the dose-response effect they observed. But seriously people, the authors have shown that there is an effect on IQ!! In statistical terms - there is an effect. The truth is that it is a very small effect in real terms... doctors and statisticians argue about this all the time. The statistician says the effect is "statistically significant" the doctor says "yes, but what does this mean for my patient? What is the clinical significance?" The answer is that the clinical reduction in IQ is too small to mean anything concrete for a population or to change policy. Some way smarter people than me have said this

Prof David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor Of The Public Understanding Of Risk, University of Cambridge, said:

“This is an ingenious study that tries to avoid the usual problem of common factors that affect both women’s drinking during pregnancy and their children’s IQ. Unfortunately the study design does not provide an estimate of the actual effect of moderate drinking on children’s IQ, so it is difficult to assess the policy implications.”

Prof David Nutt, Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology, Imperial College London, said:

“This is a hugely important study from the best UK cohort that can study this question. Even though the IQ effects are small, if at all possible women should avoid ethanol in pregnancy as it’s a known toxin.”

Yes, and I agree with that too Andi. Before long it will be "evil" to drink in pregnancy. Because good little women do what they're told, they don't weigh up the risks and make an informed decision.
(and I am completely happy with women being strongly advised not to drink at all in pregnancy if the evidence shows that even a drop of alcohol is dangerous).

<sits on fence>

good points. This finding is statistically significant, unless there are huge flaws in the research that is not in doubt. Statistical significant does not automatically mean it is important or relevant!

LeBFG Fri 16-Nov-12 10:43:55

Andi, so many posts have gone by and I still feel like I'm addressing the same points. No, IQ tests are not perfect, but they are the best things we have to assess cognitive ability. No, no info was given on exact ages (though I would assume they were all within a month of 8 years) - but the variation in ages would be the same in all groups, and not all groups show the same effect wrt alcohol consumption. Mothers' IQ does not need to be known as the way in which they mix the group members (genetic variation) is unlinked to things like IQ, smoking etc i.e. it automatically controls for these factors (this is the very clever thing about this piece of research).

I wholeheartedly agree with Tinker's quotes. Sums it up for me. And agree with SHRIIIEEEK's last post.

I feel this report has helped me make an informed decision in my current pg. I drank a very little amount in the last one - he came early (no link I'm sure wink) and I'm at-risk of this happening again. With all the extra physical traumas a premmie gets by being born early, I don't want to take even a small risk this time around. I'm staying tee-total. Totally don't judge others, but this is my conclusion for me. This bit of research has been useful - for me.

TinkerTills Fri 16-Nov-12 10:53:06

For what its worth LeBFG, if i had my time again i don't think I'd drink either. And that's a direct result of this research. Small effect or not, I'm crossing my fingers that my husband's stupidly high IQ balances it all out ;-)

LeBFG Fri 16-Nov-12 10:54:28

Hah, me too Tinker wink.

butterfingerz Fri 16-Nov-12 12:01:18

Well whats 1.8 IQ points between friends?

I was absolutely teetotal for both pregnancies - the first pregnancy and both births were horrendous. I had a good diet, exercised plenty, no drink and still had a rubbish time of it. Both births I'm sure have had far reaching effects on my children (though nothing we can't manage)... the whole pregnancy and childbirth deal is a risk.

Tbh, if I ever did go for number 3, I think I'd be far more relaxed, have a glass of wine and leave it to god, thats all anyone can do imo.

TheOnlyPersonInTheRoom Fri 16-Nov-12 12:29:08

gloucestergirl made my point for me, brilliantly

At the moment it looks like I’ll be on drugs for blood pressure, as well as aspirin, for my entire pregnancy.
When I’m NOT pregnant I don’t even take so much as a paracetamol for a headache, yet my GP is advising me to take drugs whilst I’m incubating a child. There hasn’t even been a discussion about what could be causing it – simply, drugs are the answer.

It would be much better for my baby, surely, if I were signed off from my stressful full-time job and just rested at home for 40 weeks, than put poison in my body?

But gosh think how controversial that would be!

CinnabarRed Fri 16-Nov-12 12:43:42

There is certainly general confusion about what the term 'statistically significant' means.

All it means is that the result is unlikely to have happened by chance. In other words, the observed decrease in IQ is likely to be linked to alcohol consumption.

Whether that matters is a completely different question. Several people have pointed out that there are other influences which have a far greater effect on a child's life outcome than a small decrease in potential IQ.

AndiMac Fri 16-Nov-12 12:49:23

LeBFG, I don't think that we are actually arguing from very different viewpoints, I'd say we probably agree more than disagree, so I'm going to leave it happily there. smile

LeBFG Fri 16-Nov-12 13:15:26

OK, fine by me smile.

Having read the whole thread, I have to agree with everything LeBFG says really. Knowledge is power and if you know the risks then it is up to you what you do about it.

I think having the information to make an informed evaluation of the risks works in women's favour not against them. i don't think of research like this as a stick to beat women with or to dictate to them but see it as an empowering thing so they can make their own choices. Who wants to be told what to do by some GP just because they haven't bothered to research things for themselves.

One thing that does annoy me on threads like this is that seemingly intelligent women, with IQ's the size of planet, six degrees and a brace of PHd's still assume that a sample of one has any signifcance. Who cares if your mother drank like a fish and you are still the cleverest person that ever lived, it doesn't mean anything in terms of statistics nor does it give any indication of risk across the general population. All it means is that genes for metabolising alcohol and luck were on your side. It does not confound anything from the research says.

I'm past the child bearing stage but I wouldn't touch a drop if it were me and not just because of this research, but also because it isn't that out of line with most other research. Given that I don't drink alcohol when I am not pregnant, I don't think there is any benefit to be be derived from starting to drink when I am, so I am able to ignore the studies that suggest that some alcohol is beneficial because I don't think this is relevant. However, I can only make those choices by having the information so I have no problem with well conducted research no matter what the conclusion is and regardless of whether it fits in with how I would like things to be.

peeriebear Fri 16-Nov-12 13:50:57

I had a drink if I wanted one during my pregnancy with DD2. She is one of the top readers in her year and sharp as a tack. I suppose if I hadn't had those few beers, she'd have turned the microwave into a nuclear reactor by now.

EasyToEatTiger Fri 16-Nov-12 16:32:50

Phew! Thank heaven for little beers!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 16-Nov-12 17:00:49

Perhaps if women who drink during pregnancy also play Mozart while child is in the womb then the loss of IQ will be negligible. grin

It probably explains why my ds1 is quite dim then, as I was half sozzled until 20 weeks.
Before the shock faces, I didn't know I was pregnant until then. I stopped as soon as I found out though because irrespective of IQ its not too great for the poor infant is it?

Yellowtip Fri 16-Nov-12 17:14:13

Then my eight DC must be exceptions which prove the rule because I was imcreasingly relaxed about drink with each of them (only not drinking with DC1) and they are all roughly the same in terms of intellectual ability which is apparently in the top 5% of the range for the whole lot. If anything the one I drank the most with (DC8) is arguably the sharpest (well, seems to be at the moment but she's only 10).

Yellowtip Fri 16-Nov-12 17:15:28


wigglybeezer Fri 16-Nov-12 17:36:21

Doesn't breast feeding up your child's IQ by more than 1.8? I reckon I'm still ahead.

LaCiccolina Fri 16-Nov-12 17:37:29

1.8 point iq?

Right so if I feed it organic once born and concentrate on education ill probably make up that staggering difference.

Yawn. I don't know anyone drinking excessively in preg. I do know many smokers, mobile users and all sorts of other poss risks.

For 1.8 ill take my chance that an odd glass is probs ok.

If I fancied a glass at nearly 6pm id raise it. Touch early but cheers anyhoo!!!!

EdgarAllanPond Fri 16-Nov-12 18:36:45


Doesn't breast feeding up your child's IQ by more than 1.8? I reckon I'm still ahead.

studies showed up to as much as 10pts (though again how much of this can be explained away....hard to say)

sw11mumofone Fri 16-Nov-12 19:27:33

My DD is 2 and 4 months. Her nursery has commented to me that she seems exceptionally bright. By the time she was 2 she could count to 30 and recognise written numbers to 25. I was told by a paediatrician that her language is very advanced for her age. None of these points are things i generally shout about but am using them to make a point.

I abstained from drinking completely in the first trimester. For the last two trimesters I drank 1-2 small glasses of wine 2-3 times a week. An amount which, even though moderate, would raise a few self-righteous eyebrows on here i'm sure! I also formula fed from birth and she was born at the end of June. So destined to be dim by all accounts!!!

I find that a glass or two of wine substantially lowers my stress levels which in my eyes is positive. It also improves my terrible insomnia - a health risk in its own right.

I believe my IQ is high enough to make informed decisions and not abstaining from alcohol for 9 months doesnt mean I cant. I also have a very good friend who is an obstetric anaesthatist and she did her medical degree at Oxford. She had a glass of wine or two nearly every day of both her pregnancies and her eldest is now also studying medicine at Oxford.

Yellowtip Fri 16-Nov-12 19:36:29

All of my supposedly stunted DC are at Oxford too sw11. Well those who aren't still at school. Perhaps this thread should be moved to Education?

sw11mumofone Fri 16-Nov-12 19:55:33

High five yellowtip!! Fancy a drink?! ;-)

Yellowtip Fri 16-Nov-12 20:03:47

This is making me broody. With DC2 we lived near the Sonoma and Napa Valleys so you'd have had to be a real masochist to forego a drink each night. Lovely and so cheap too.

katiecubs Fri 16-Nov-12 20:06:23

1.8 you say?! And for 6 (!!!) drinks per week.

Brilliant news for a Friday night <settles down on sofa with a nice glass of Pinot noir>

confuddledDOTcom Fri 16-Nov-12 22:47:58

This study, even if it's something to take seriously is for 1-6 DRINKS PER WEEK (goodness knows how many units!) for a small proportion of the population. Of that small proportion, I'm sure it's a smaller one that drink that much!

I have probably 6 drinks a year! I'm not going to totally abstain because I don't drink a lot, I'll carry on having the odd drink when I fancy it. I don't drink to get drunk, I drink because I like the taste and if others are sharing a bottle of wine (usually FIL shoving a glass of red at me grin as the only other drinker in the room) I'll have a glass with them or because certain wines taste nice with certain foods or whatever it happens to be.

The reports of this study take the leap from 1-6 DRINKS PER WEEK (sorry got to keep shouting that!) maybe possibly dropping an IQ point to don't drink anything ever at all, that just doesn't work, it's back to the lowest common denominator! Someone STATING that they only drink 6 drinks a week is a far cry from people like me who only have the odd drink yet we're being lumped in with it too.

Actually, isn't one drink a day (which let's face it 6 a week is) alcoholic?

marriedinwhite Fri 16-Nov-12 22:49:49

Depends on the raw material. My IQ I know is 127 - had it tested. DH has a mega brain, prob at least 150 - much cleverer than me.

DS - had one or two glasses a week and I reckon he's on par with DH.

DD - had a g&t every night - the obstetrician said I could and it was a very stressful pg and he said if it reduced the stress, just do it. She's more like me but mcuh blonder and more gorgeous - she's also the little grafter of the two.

So, mine got some booze and a very good diet. DS got bf for 8 weeks then I failed - DD got it for 8 months. They have stable loving parents and a stimulating middle class life (they are almost 18 and 14.5 now).

They go to really good schools and always have and have varied and enriched lives - tennis, piano, flute, swimming, good holidays, bit of art, concerts, theatre, sport, etc..

Reckon it all outweights a unit or two - doesn't seem to have harmed them grin.

Now if they were cold and hungry and I had spent pg on booze with bad food and if I spent the benefit money on booze rather than food that would be different.

WestCoastWinnie Sat 17-Nov-12 04:12:07

My eldest son has FASD - we don't know exactly how much his birth mum drank but he has a lot of problems at school, socialising, processing information, with managing his temper and so on. He's never been able to function in a normal school, has no friends and (at 11) has already been involved with the legal system. Yes, it's FASD - but his life is so restricted by his brain damage and his outcomes potentially so sad and dire it amazes me that anyone would take the risk to drink.
We've been to many support groups and met women who had 'the odd glass' at a crucial stage in the foetal development whose kids are now on the street, drug addicted, pregnant teens etc etc. Of course it's a choice to drink when pregnant and a drink may relax you, you may feel "it's your body" - but alcohol is a poison that goes straight across the placenta into the baby's brain. The baby doesn't have a choice. To me (personal opinion alert...) this has nothing to do with "woman as incubator", anti-feminism, being pro-choice or whatever and I think the issue is confounded by a lot of other arguments.
I am in Canada, and there seems to be more awareness of FASD (and it is a spectrum) and a lot less automatic backlash about research like this.

LeBFG Sat 17-Nov-12 08:19:46

Am I the only one a bit hmm about all this stealth boasting?

Brugmansia Sat 17-Nov-12 09:33:45

"westcoastwinnie", I'm sorry to hear about your son's difficulties. Your post though in some ways highlights the limitations of this type of research.

I'm not that worried about a potential drop in IQ of less than 2 as that is unlikely to have any real impact on my child's life. I am concerned about FASD, which as your post describes can have very serious implications, but is still very poorly understood.

Hopefully this research may add to overall scientific understanding of how alcohol affects fetal development. I'm not sure the media reporting of it helps public understanding.

tacoxx Sat 17-Nov-12 09:43:23

Research does not show that moderate drinking in pregnancy harms children’s IQ

I found this story on the research very interesting. It shows a very different take on the research findings which throws their interpretation into question.


So I had a small glass of wine a week in both my pregnancies from about 16/17 weeks (i.e. from when I could face it).

Even though I would then be 'implicated' I am glad that people are doing studies on pregnancy and newborn. i think it is great to have scientific focus on this.

However, I think 2 IQ points is pretty marginal. Perhaps arrogantly, given mine and my DHs academic records etc I am not worried about that for my kids.

What really pisses me off is the sensationalist journalism around this kind of study. Drinking in pregnancy makes your kids thick! Formula makes your kids thick and fat! etc etc ad nauseum. It is journalism that is both lazy and aimed at knocking women down with guilt and worry again and again.

Wholly unfair and a worrying demonstration that we still live in a very patriarchal society.

katiecubs Sat 17-Nov-12 10:30:15

FAS is obviously an extremely serious condition associated with very heavy drinking and alcoholism. This study in no way implies that a couple of drinks a week could lead to your child having such a serious disability.

Brugmansia Sat 17-Nov-12 10:46:35

But FASD is not the same as FAS. It is less serious but, as said above, it is a spectrum and can still be serious. The difficulty is trying to figure out where the tipping point may be and what other factors may be relevant, eg genetic susceptibility.

willowthecat Sat 17-Nov-12 10:51:35

westcoastwinnie - I don't mean this about you as you know about your son's birth mother but I've noticed that it's common for adoptive parents in the US to say that their adopted child is FAS even when the information about the birth mother's alcohol intake is not available (there was a ridiculous case in the New Scientist a few years ago about a mom who 'realised' her adopted daughter was FAS when she was not being invited to the popular girls' parties at school !) . I agree that limiting alcohol intake in pregnancy is a good idea although I doubt we will ever really understand that much about it as it would not be ethical to seriously test the idea !

slipshodsibyl Sat 17-Nov-12 11:01:44

But wasn't it 1.8 per genetic variant? And there were 4 possible genetic variants. So couldn't the difference then be 1.8 x 4?

slipshodsibyl Sat 17-Nov-12 11:08:52

Research does not show that moderate drinking in pregnancy harms children’s IQ

The research you link to above was carried out by a readyer in psycology at the University of Kent. This study was carried out by scientists from Bristol and Oxford and is the first to study genetics and to try to exclude social and other factors. I think there is little doubt that it is probably the most informative research we have yet.

I drank a little during pregnancies with no obvious ill effect but I wouldn't now.

LeBFG Sat 17-Nov-12 14:59:32

A blimin psycology reader??!! ffs...<despair>

The paper finds a link between mothers' age/status/educational level and whether they drink or not. This has been found in other papers, it's not new...but the ADH genes are assorted independently of this. Despite this, among women drinkers (whose children have higher IQs) there is a steady drop of IQ points between children with 2 or less risky genes and ones with 4 or more.

The drop is 3.5.

THis is in women who are drinking less than one unit a day.

That is not a lot of alcohol (unless you're part of the group who think 1 drink a week is a lot).

If you don't drink, there is no drop in IQ (look at table 3).


Someone better explain that to Robbie. (Funny how taco found Robbie's comment interesting and hasn't found anything to criticise.)

ViciousAttack Sat 17-Nov-12 15:10:48

Why is there a big gap between people who drink one drink a week to people who drink nothing at all? What about the middle ground? Those who have a drink once every second month or whatever.

LeBFG Sat 17-Nov-12 15:20:04

All drinkers in this study were women who drank less than 6 units a week - it includes all women who said they only drunk less than one unit a week at either 18 weeks or 32 weeks. So yes, this is a broad category, sure.

I would suspect most women were low drinkers (<1, 1-2 units a week)...and yet there is still an overall effect.

Is it a big gap between drinking 1 unit a week and nothing?

mellen Sat 17-Nov-12 15:24:50

"Doesn't breast feeding up your child's IQ by more than 1.8? I reckon I'm still ahead."

Breastfeeding is the biological norm. It doesnt 'up' anything.

ViciousAttack Sat 17-Nov-12 15:28:38

I drink a unit every 2-3 months, usually less often. Yes, I do see a big gap between someone who drinks as much as me and someone who drinks every week. This is the group I have an issue about. No one has ever proven that someone who has had 1-2 units in an entire pregnancy has harmed their baby, but we're lumped in the 1-6 units drinks a week category because we have had a drink.

LeBFG Sat 17-Nov-12 15:44:15

Why are you worried about 3-4.5 units over 9 months? Because it's about your personal situation? I also want to know about the effects of drinking on my baby. I can see they aren't going to be able to stratify necessarily to the level I want to know about. They have to work with the best data set they could find. Remember, these ladies were not asked to keep diaries. From recall (in my last pg) I couldn't tell you an exact averge unit count per week. It varied from none to 3.

wigglybeezer Sat 17-Nov-12 16:10:20

Mellon, breastfeeding may be the biological norm but it isn't the cultural norm at the moment ( except on Mumsnet). I was being lighthearted but knowing that breast feeding ( when compared to formula feeding) helps IQ by a few points (and yes I know statistics can be manipulated to say just about anything) is helping me not obsess guiltily about the occasional tiny glass of wine I may have drunk when pregnant. I expect there are a few mothers out ther who formula fed and are thinking well at least I didn't drink when I was pregnant. We all have to deal with the guilt of not being perfect somehow!

ViciousAttack Sat 17-Nov-12 17:12:35

I'm not worried about it, I'm confident that I haven't done anything to put my children at risk. What I worry about is the way this study has been aimed at ALL drinking, I worry about lumping women like me in with people who drink 6 drinks a week because it is a totally different ball game.

As someone who has not had a single uncomplicated pregnancy and lost 4 babies, I am all too aware of how "their life is in your hands" "advice" is. How every little decision you make is life and death for your child - according to the advice. When you have a complication or lose a baby you go back through every decision and try to work out which one caused it whilst everyone is telling you "it's not your fault, you didn't do anything wrong"! Personally, I don't buy into the "their life is in your hands" attitude. I break the "rules" and I don't blame myself when things happen. None of my pregnancy issues could have been avoided, they weren't my fault, just how my body works but because of my health and experiences I've met so many women who are beating themselves up (read this thread if you want to meet some) because they did something wrong and is it because of that. The thing is as long as you are sensible and don't drink to this extent, as long as you're not eating loads of X food, as long as you only eat Lion eggs, the risk of any of these is not worth stressing about. My drink every few months is not going to harm my baby, any more than someone giving in to a pate craving occasionally is. In fact not making foods a banned food means you're less likely to miss it. Keeping it in your head that it's an issue is keeping it in your head.

LeBFG Sat 17-Nov-12 18:45:39

IMO of course one drink every few months isn't going to do any harm. But before this report I would have said the same about one drink a week. I have had to revise my opinion. The risks are still pretty low and so I really don't judge women who want to drink a little. I have chosen not to based on this research.

What the media says on the back of the report is not the fault of the report however, which is a point I think many posters are getting confused about.

Being pg now and following quite a few threads about banned foods etc I question as much as the next man. I feel health professionals get hysterical about pregnancy and issue edicts sometimes with very little factual basis (pate is a good case in point!). I don't think this is to make women feel guilty. I'm all for a balanced, reasoned approach to risk - choosing risks to take or avoid based on real, meaningful facts. I feel the authorties lump all women into one group of thickos who can't be trusted to do this properly on our own - this I loathe.

redyellowgreen Sat 17-Nov-12 20:02:27

A (hopefully non-controversial) question:

How closely are IQ results linked with actual academic/general success?

I realise that it's the best way of assessing things (particularly when you factor in the myriad of other influences on 'success'), but I've always wondered: if you do well on an IQ test are you considerably more likely to get a million A*s at GCSE (and vice versa)? Or does it mean merely that you have a brain which works in a way favoured by IQ tests?

Yellowtip Sat 17-Nov-12 20:50:25

On the whole the most intelligent kids achieve the most A* at GCSE, that's hardly a surprise. Presumably the most intelligent kids also score the highest on IQ tests too, on the whole (if their parents put them in for such a test - not sure why they would though, it's certainly never crossed my mind and I can't see what purpose it would serve).

conorsrockers Sat 17-Nov-12 21:06:09

I do enjoy a drink, but hardly drank with my first two pregnancies, however - the third was slightly different!! I never drank too much, just more than the other two and DS3 is a pint sized genius. So that 'scientific proof' counts for nothing in our house!!!

mellen Sat 17-Nov-12 21:32:50

conors - I dont think that this study is saying that all children with mothers who drank during pregnancy will be less intelligent than all children whose mothers didnt, or who drank very little, it is just saying that there is an association between alcohol and lower IQ. Same as breastfeeding - a difference exists at a population level, but not uniformly the case in individual children.

spotsdots Sat 17-Nov-12 21:54:44

I stopped long time ago believing such "study reports" because they always come up with contradictory results. I mean today they will report alcohol is bad, tomorrow they will report it is good in moderation. Then sugar is good sugar is bad, coffee good coffee bad.. the list is endless.

I say use your common sense grin

I've never tested alcohol even when supposedly the "study showed a glass of wine" is good, but still I don't believe my dc's cleverness is due to the fact that I didn't drink when pregnant.

confuddledDOTcom Sun 18-Nov-12 01:47:46

They've not said it's uniformly the case because it's not, it's the small amount of women who have this gene. They can't even tell us how much this small amount of women drank because they self reported and they counted drinks not units.

As far as IQ goes, at 9 I went to college with Mum when I wasn't well and took an IQ test with the rest of the class, I came 3rd in the class after Mum and my aunt. I passed the Mensa test at 12 but my parents couldn't afford the fees, I'm not an academic though. I enjoy researching stuff for my own interest but in a classroom environment I don't do too well. I had a friend from nursery who I've been friends with all through school and am still friends now. She's not got a high IQ, she doesn't naturally find learning easy but she's a grafter. I got rubbish GCSE results and hers were brilliant. She went on to eventually go to university, get a really good degree and a well paid/ high powered job. I passed a 1 month course to get a uni place, but my IQ didn't help me out, I was glad when I had a miscarriage part way through the first year and had to pull out (not glad to miscarry you understand).

LeBFG Sun 18-Nov-12 06:53:16

It's not one gene - there are more than 4 in this report. Only a small number of women have 4 or more. But many more have one/some susceptibility genes.

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