A new study from Oxford and Bristol Universities has found a link between drinking in pregnancy and IQ in children, reports the BBC.
Researchers looked at the IQ scores of 4,000 children and the drinking habits of their mothers and found that even “moderate” drinking during pregnancy was related to lower IQ at age eight.
Oxford University’s Dr Ron Gray, who led the study, admitted that even though the effects were small, he would still recommend avoiding alcohol. “Why take the risk?”, he said.
There has been confusing evidence from previous studies on whether it is safe for women to drink during pregnancy. Since 2007, the Department of Health has advised that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should avoid alcohol.
The BBC quoted Dr Clare Tower, consultant in obstetrics and fetal maternal medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, who stressed that women who have had the occasional alcoholic drink during pregnancy “should not be overly alarmed by the findings”.
“Current UK advice is that the safest course of action is abstinence during pregnancy”, she said, but pointed out that other studies have found no effect on IQ at five years.