Wine While Pregnant? Why Not?

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health

In many European countries women aren't advised or expected to give up drinking while pregnant. In fact, many doctors there go as far as recommending a glass or two of wine a week

Those pregnancy cravings are notoriously powerful and many women happily give in to temptation. They indulge in cookies, chips, pizza, or burgers. I splurged on (inhaled) strawberry pie and hot from the oven chocolate chip cookies. YUMM!!! It’s pretty normal and we can justify the indulgence by blaming our out of control hormones. But what if your craving is more controversial?

Kate Hudson, who is pregnant with her second child, seems to crave a little wine. The actress was photographed last week while vacationing in Argentina indulging in a glass of red wine.  Naturally, the photo has caused some controversy.  After all, in America we’ve been taught that even a whiff of an alcoholic substance will put your unborn child in danger.

We tend to get a little crazy over the idea of a pregnant woman drinking, even in moderation.  The mother to be is publicly scrutinized, chastised, and patronized by the over-zealous do-gooders of the world. We’re quick to throw disapproving glances and judge any pregnant woman we believe is acting in an un-motherly fashion.  Yet once that same child is born we say nothing or turn a blind eye if she chooses to feed him McDonalds, sugary juices, sodas, fried foods, over processed snacks, and candy by the truckload.  Makes sense…

Kate Hudson

The pregnancy paranoia list is already long. Everything from hot tubs, bikini waxes, nail polish, hair color and cats have long been feared and recently coffee, cheese, deli meats, chocolate, and fish have been added to the list.  So clearly, if experts believe all of those are taboo it’s fairly safe to say that they also believe abstinence from alcohol is the only way to go.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The March of Dimes have a “zero alcohol” policy. And the Centers for Disease Control says, “No one knows exactly what harmful effects even the smallest amount of alcohol has on a developing baby…and there is no safe time for women to drink when pregnant.” But there are two sides to this debate.

In many European countries, women aren't advised or expected to give up drinking while pregnant.  In fact, many doctors there go as far as recommending a glass or two of wine a week. And results from a recent long-term study in the UK suggest that light drinking while pregnant does not cause any harm to the unborn baby. Dr. Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, carried out the study which involved 12,500 children from all socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities.

In the study, researchers concluded that there was no link between light drinking in pregnancy, defined as 1 to 6 drinks per week or one per day, and any behavioral or cognitive problems in children at the age of three.  Additionally, some of the evidence suggested that light drinking during pregnancy was actually beneficial to the child: Boys born to mothers who had 1-2 drinks per week were less likely to have behavioral problems or hyperactivity and scored higher on cognitive tests. Girls in the study scored higher on cognitive and verbal skills tests and were less likely to have emotional or social problems compared with those born to abstainers.   And by the age of 14 these same children had a lower risk of depression and aggression.

Dr. Kelly acknowledged that these positive effects may be attributed to many factors but, “It may also be that light-drinking mothers tend to be more relaxed themselves and this contributes to better behavioral and cognitive outcomes in their children.”  Hmmm…interesting…

Obviously, drinking heavily while pregnant is dangerous and can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but no study has been able to connect light drinking to birth defects. The studies used to promote abstinence from drinking are based on the results of heavy drinking and are meant to scare women into doing the “right thing”.

As for Kate Hudson, she may seem to be the free-thinking forerunner of the “moderation” approach to motherhood, but she’s not.  In 2006, actress Rachel Weisz said she indulged and that it was “fine” for pregnant women to have a glass or two of wine after their first trimester.  That same year, Gwyneth Paltrow admitted that she drank Guinness while she was pregnant with her second child.  And another thing, there's a chance that Kate Hudson wasn't even drinking wine.  Maybe she was enjoying a mocktail, grape juice, iced tea, or even a soda - but then, she'd be under fire for drinking caffeine while pregnant, right?  

So, what do you think?  Was Kate Hudson being reckless or was she relaxing the European way?

Stacy Matson, a health enthusiast from Southern California, regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

Introducing Stitches!

Your Path to Meaningful Connections in the World of Health and Medicine
Connect, Collaborate, and Engage!

Coming Soon - Stitches, the innovative chat app from the creators of HWN. Join meaningful conversations on health and medical topics. Share text, images, and videos seamlessly. Connect directly within HWN's topic pages and articles.

Be the first to know when Stitches starts accepting users

The Latest from Celebrity Health

Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera
Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera

I am the luckiest actress on the planet - Susan Lucci

Help St. Jude
Help St. Jude

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver - Maya Angelou

Stick It to the Flu
Stick It to the Flu

Imagine the action of a vaccine not just in terms of how it affects a single body, but also in terms of how it affects the collective body of a community — Eula Biss, author of On Immunity

Stay Connected