A past study found similar findings among 3 year olds, but researchers wanted to study older children in case any symptoms had been delayed in the previous research.
“They used data from the Millennium Cohort Study -- a large study tracking the long term health of children born in the UK -- drawing on a representative sample of 11,513 children born between September 2000 and January 2002.”As in many studies, researchers relied on the mothers self-reports. When children reached 9 months of age, the mothers were questioned about their drinking habits and other social and economic factors surrounding their lives.
Their alcohol consumption was divided into categories set out by the government's National Alcohol Strategy. “The mothers were classified as teetotal; those who drank but not in pregnancy; light (1 or 2 units a week or at any one time); moderate (3 to 6 units a week or 3 to 5 at any one time); and binge/heavy (7 or more units a week or 6 at one sitting).”
Although the study relied on the mothers’ self-reports of their children’s behavior at the age of 3, a formal assessment on behavioral and intellectual development of these children was completed when they reached 5 years of age.
Results showed that just below 6% of the mothers abstained from drinking and 60% abstained from drinking for the duration of the pregnancy alone. Of the mothers that drank during pregnancy, 26% admitted to light drinking, 5.5% were considered moderate drinkers and 2.5% were classified as heavy or binge drinkers.
Findings among all groups revealed that boys were more likely to have developmental problems, behavioral issues, hyperactivity and peer issues. Girls, on the other hand, were more likely to develop emotional problems. Testing also indicated that girls scored higher in cognitive abilities than boys.
As expected, the children of heavy drinking mothers were more likely to have behavioral and emotional issues as well as problems with hyperactivity. However, the findings did not suggest any behavioral or intellectual deficiencies among children whose mothers were considered light drinkers during pregnancy.
“Children born to light drinkers were 30% less likely to have behavioural problems than children whose mothers did not drink during pregnancy. After taking account of a wide range of influential factors, these children achieved higher cognitive scores than those whose mums had abstained from alcohol while pregnant.”In today's world, attitudes have hardened and the widespread opinion is to avoid any risks and abstain from drinking alcohol, but this study certainly questions these beliefs. Although the findings may turn our views upside-down, it would be helpful to know if these mothers were light drinkers for the entire duration of pregnancy and/or during breastfeeding before alcohol-dependent mothers are given the green light.
Light Drinking During Pregnancy: Harmful to Child's Behavioral or Intellectual Development?
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