Most women know abstaining from alcohol while pregnant is important. However, some may wonder if it’s okay to have just one drink, perhaps a glass of champagne at a wedding or other special occasion. To address this qualm, NPR put it to David Garry, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, who answered with a resounding no. He cited guidance from the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists which states that, "There is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect the fetus throughout pregnancy. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant.”
Despite that clear advice, Garry noted that the risks of alcohol exposure to a developing fetus are surprisingly unclear, and researchers are still working to uncover clues. One analysis published in BMJ Open assessed the findings of 26 studies which compared drinking at low levels with not drinking at all. Researchers found that drinking 32 grams (two to three drinks) or less of alcohol a week during pregnancy was associated with a 10% increased risk of preterm birth compared with not drinking at all. However, it’s unknown whether factors other than alcohol consumption could have contributed to the increased risk.
While 32 grams of alcohol per week is well above one special-occasion drink, experts warn that, nevertheless, the possible risks of even one drink aren’t worth it. It is well known that heavy drinking—three or more drinks per occasion—during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause permanent physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities in children. Yet, many people are unaware that lesser amounts of drinking can also lead to alcohol-related problems. Bottom line? Abstaining removes all alcohol-related risks from your pregnancy, and with the recent uptick in craft breweries producing non-alcoholic beverages, finding one you like shouldn't be hard.