Advice from the Department of Health has, since 2007, told pregnant women or those trying to conceive not to drink alcohol.
Now, a new study from Oxford and Bristol Universities suggests a link between drinking alcohol in pregnancy and lower IQ in children, according to 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.
There has been confusing evidence from previous studies on whether it is safe for women to drink during pregnancy, but 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.
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.