It should be obvious to anyone reading a pediatric blog that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a great big no-no. Nearly three years ago, we learned the following from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

>  Alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disabilities are completely preventable when pregnant women abstain from alcohol use.

>  Neurocognitive and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong.

>  No amount of alcohol intake should be considered safe during pregnancy.

>  There is no safe trimester to drink alcohol.

>  All forms of alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) post similar risk.

>  Binge drinking poses dose-related risk to the developing fetus.


We also noted that effective family planning requires abstinence from alcohol even before conception in order to avoid fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other problems, since a woman may not know for many weeks after conception that she is actually pregnant:

Family planning applies to all women of childbearing years, including adolescent teenage girls. It empowers women, not men, to be the deciders of when to start becoming sexually active, when to start (and stop) birth control, and when to begin taking steps (like exercising regularly and eating properly, stopping alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, taking a multivitamin with folic acid) to help bring healthy children into this complex and dangerous world. The CDC’s recommendations are a reminder that women, much more than men, have the ability to affect the health and prospects of the next generation in very positive ways. That responsibility begins before conception.


In June, we thought there was a consensus that the “pump and dump” strategy used by breastfeeding mothers was unnecessary. A myth it was, or so we thought:



Now, a new study published this month in Pediatrics suggests that lactating mothers should not drink any alcohol. Melissa Jenco is the bearer of the bad news:

Children exposed to alcohol in breastmilk didn’t perform as well as other children on reasoning tests at ages 6 and 7, according to a new study.


The research used data on more than five thousand Australian children:

Children’s reasoning test scores at age 6-7 were lower if their mothers drank alcohol while breastfeeding, and the scores were lowest for those whose mothers drank the most. The association held up while controlling for numerous factors, including prenatal alcohol consumption, sex, income and birthweight. However, the association was small and “clinical implications may be limited unless mothers drink large quantities, or frequently binge drink,” authors said in the report[…]

There was no link between a mother’s drinking and her child’s reasoning scores if she did not breastfeed.

“This suggest that alcohol exposure through breastmilk was responsible for cognitive reductions in breastfed babies, rather than psychosocial or environmental factors surrounding maternal alcohol consumption,” authors wrote.


That’s not the only bad news. A new “Global Burden of Disease” study published in The Lancet last week finds the perceived benefits and health protections deriving from alcohol consumption to be wishful thinking; myths, says Laurel Ives:

A large new global study published in the Lancet has confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.


The researchers interpreted their findings:

Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero.


Just like Ives says, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption in humans:

The lead author of the study Dr Max Griswold, at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, said: “Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increases with any amount of alcohol.

“The strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for heart disease in our study.

“Although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more.”


Sandee LaMotte gives our drinking a global perspective:

A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot.

Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.

While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017, Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult.

But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.

In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.

Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.



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