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Shocked at advice on drinking while pregnant

We are alarmed to learn of a recent article in your publication “A drink or two may be good for baby” on October 31, 2008, and others reporting the results of a recent epidemiological study entitled “Light drinking in pregnancy, a risk for behavioral problems and cognitive deficits at 3 years of age?” published by Dr. Yvonne Kelly and colleagues in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The lay press interpretation suggesting the possibility of some “beneficial” effects of drinking during pregnancy described in these articles was not part of the research study’s findings. We are very concerned that this erroneous and potentially dangerous interpretation of the results has gained considerable traction in the lay press. Indeed, any suggestion that light drinking during pregnancy may provide cognitive advantages or other beneficial effects could lead to more unborn children being placed at increased risk.

Maternal drinking during pregnancy is a serious health issue. There is a considerable body of laboratory research and clinical evidence confirming the adverse consequences of maternal drinking on fetal brain development and behavior. Public health officials and health organizations worldwide, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have cautioned that women must ABSTAIN from drinking alcohol during pregnancy because it will have adverse life-long consequences for their babies.

We wish to submit the attached editorial response to the report “A drink or two may be good for baby”, that appeared in your publication in an effort to provide your readers with more information regarding what is known about maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the reasons why the study by Kelly and colleagues should be interpreted with caution. Because of the current holiday season, we feel that this message is particularly timely and request your help to bring it to the public attention.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group

Belfast Telegraph

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