TUESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- A new study casts some doubt on the notion than any level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is harmful to a child's neuropsychological development.
The study of more than 10,000 children tracked until age 7 found that those born to mothers who were light drinkers during pregnancy -- one or two drinks per week -- were not at increased odds for mental deficits.
"There appears to be no increased risk of negative impacts of light drinking in pregnancy on behavioral or [mental] development in 7-year-old children," study co-author Yvonne Kelly said in a news release from BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which will publish the findings April 17.
One U.S. expert said this type of information is useful, although the jury may still be out on the issue.
"The problem is that no one knows the exact amount of alcohol consumption that is safe, so many doctors in this country choose a conservative approach and tell their patients not to drink any alcohol," said Dr. Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Previous research has linked heavy drinking during pregnancy with health and developmental problems in children, but questions remain about the effects of light drinking during pregnancy.
This study included about 10,500 children in the United Kingdom who were born between 2000 and 2002 and were assessed when they were 7 years old. The children underwent tests for math, reading and spatial skills and their parents and teachers provided information about the youngsters' social and emotional behavior.
The mothers of the children included those who never drank (about 13 percent), those who did not drink during pregnancy (57 percent), those who were light drinkers during pregnancy (about 23 percent) and those who were heavier drinkers during pregnancy (7 percent).
Children born to l
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