A recent study, completed at Leeds University, has found that middle-class mothers are more likely to end in premature births, with smaller unhealthier newborns because their pregnancies are marked by higher levels of alcohol use. The researchers involved in this case say that they discovered more than 50 percent of women in this socio-economic class drink more than doctors recommended during the first three months of their pregnancy.
They also found older white women who have college degrees and live in wealthy areas to be more likely to have alcohol exceeding the normal limits. The recommended weekly amount is two units per week during pregnancy. Those who did exceed this limit were also twice as likely, compared to those women in the study who did not drink at all, to wind up giving birth either prematurely or to an unexpectedly small baby.
The authors of this report say that their research clearly supports the “abstinence-only message,” and they hope that their research will show women everywhere how important exposure to alcohol is for their baby. “Timing of exposure is important in the association of alcohol with birth outcomes, with the first trimester being the most vulnerable period,” the study concluded.
For those who are unsure what exactly a unit of alcohol is, that descriptor translates to roughly 10 ml of pure alcohol. For women one to two units per week can mean one glass of wine per week. For perspective, one pint of a strong beer can be four units. Women are cautioned to always check the alcohol by volume labels on any drink they chose to have because if this percentage is even a little above normal it can become way more than one unit.
The study also found that women, on average, were drinking almost four units every week while they were going through the first trimester. Once they reached the second trimester, they usually cut down to two units, sometimes less.
The study was conducted through the analysis of 1,264 food frequency questionnaires from women who were already considered low risk for any pregnancy complications. The study took place in Leeds, England. Common questions in the flyer included, how often people drink alcohol, what type of alcohol do they normally drink, and how much alcohol they had had during specific moments in their pregnancy. These dates were all three trimesters and four weeks before conception.
Of these women, 13 percent were born underweight and an additional 4.4 percent were smaller than commonly expected. 4.3 percent of these babies were born prematurely. The researchers say that they have strong evidence that drinking during pregnancy was the leading cause of these outcomes.
“It is interesting that alcohol consumption was greatest in women from a strong economic and social background who should otherwise have the lowest risk of preterm birth and low birth weight,” said Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Leeds University, Andrew Whitelaw.
The researchers hope that this will illuminate this issue to all women, especially those who come from stable economic backgrounds who might believe that their pregnancies are not are risked because of favorable conditions in their favor.
By Nick Manai