A new study sure to stir up controversy found that drinking alcohol during and even beyond the first trimester of pregnancy didn't seem to raise the risks of premature delivery, low birth weight, or high blood pressure for the mother.
Dr. Fergus McCarthy and an international team from Ireland, England, New Zealand, and Australia compared birth outcomes among 5,628 women who were pregnant for the first time between 2004 and 2011.
More than half of women reported drinking alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy. While 19 per cent reported only occasionally drinking alcohol, 25 per cent reported low alcohol consumption, about three to seven drinks per week. In addition, 15 per cent said that they consumed more than seven drinks per week.
Yet in looking at rates of premature birth, babies with low birth weight or small size, and preeclampsia -- a serious condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure -- the researchers saw no differences between the groups.
Findings were published online ahead of print in the October issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Yet as HealthDay reports, the study has drawn some sharp criticism from the chief medical officer of the March of Dimes because it didn't examine long-term health threats.
While the link between heavy alcohol consumption and health and developmental problems in children is well established, researchers say the picture is different for light drinking. A 2012 Danish study, for example, found that a mother's low to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy didn't affect a five-year-old's ability to plan, organize, strategize, recall details or manage time. In a study published in April, researchers from University College in the U.K. looked at 10,534 seven-year-olds whose mothers were light drinkers during pregnancy and found no behavioral or cognitive differences from those born to nondrinkers.
Still, some experts urge that since the evidence is still not crystal clear, women should avoid alcohol altogether if they are pregnant. But, as Harvard Health Blog points out, some respected health agencies, such as the U.K.'s Department of Health, greenlight one drink a few times a week while pregnant.
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Only <em>some </em>Sushi is off limits -- Sushi with cooked fish actually benefits the baby. According to <a href="http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/sushimercury.htm" target="_hplink">Americanpregnancy.org</a>, "most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby."
Caffeine is known to increase a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. But, the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20100721/moderate-coffee-drinking-ok-in-pregnancy" target="_hplink">ACOG found that</a> a minimal amount -- less than 200 milligrams a day -- is safe.
High levels of mercury (found in fish)<a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/is-tuna-safe-during-pregnancy/" target="_hplink"> can harm a baby's nervous system</a>. But, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jena-pincott" target="_hplink">Jena Pincott</a> says that pregnant women craving their favorite fish can have up to 6oz a week.
Cold Cuts And Deli Meat
There's a risk that deli meats contain harmful bacteria, but according to <a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/safe-pregnancy-eating/?page=2" target="_hplink">Parents Magazine</a>, pregnant women can eat it heated up -- either steaming or very warm.
Pregnant women are prone to heartburn after eating spicy foods, but they <a href="http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/safe-pregnancy-eating/?page=2" target="_hplink">won't harm the baby.</a>
Raw Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and veggies may contain bacteria, but<a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-nutrition/PR00109/NSECTIONGROUP=2" target="_hplink"> according to Mayo Clinic</a>, as long as they're thoroughly washed and damaged portions are cut away, they are safe to eat.