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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Message withdrawn at poster's request.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 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.

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