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Drinking in pregnancy can impact on IQ

15th November 2012

Expectant mothers have been warned that drinking while pregnant can impact on their child’s IQ.

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Researchers from the universities of Bristol and Oxford said drinking one or two glasses of wine a week was enough to make a difference to the intelligence of their offspring.

They examined IQ scores of 4,000 children as well as recording the alcohol intake of their mothers for the study in the PLOS One journal.

While the effect of drinking one to six units a week was small, they said it reinforced the message that alcohol should be avoided in pregnancy.

Previous studies have produced confusing evidence on the impact of moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy but these findings ruled out other factors that may have an effect, such as the mother’s age and education, by looking at changes in the genes that are not connected to social or lifestyle effects.

Dr Ron Gray from Oxford University said the findings were significant as lower IQ had been shown to be associated with being socially disadvantaged, having poorer health and even dying younger.

“It is for individual women to decide whether or not to drink during pregnancy, we just want to provide the evidence,” he added. “But I would recommend avoiding alcohol.”

Department of Health advice to women who are trying to conceive, or are pregnant, is to avoid alcohol.

However, Dr Clare Tower, consultant in obstetrics and fetal maternal medicine, at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, said women who have had the occasional alcoholic drink in pregnancy should not be overly alarmed by the findings.

 

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