Alcohol and pregnancy: Is it safe to have a little?

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  • Mary McConnell says:

    I find that it isn’t good to drink before or during pregnancy. Why would you drink if there isn’t a sure poll shows it is safe completely. Be responsible don’t drink.

  • Joanna Kennedy says:

    One drink….has (many times) led to two, or three. 0% consumption in pregnancy is the only way to guarantee safety. FASD is forever. For the people living with it as for their caregivers.

  • Rania says:

    Why would you risk lifelong, irreversible, brain and other damage for a glass of wine/beer every now and then? People should seriously consider WHY they use alcohol, as it is generally to feel different. And that is the discussion; saying don’t drink takes away a socially condoned coping strategy. Women stop eating raw fish, nuts, stop cigarettes, etc. and all kinds of other preventive substances depending on socio-cultural science and beliefs; why should alcohol be any different. Women should be scared; brain damage is forever! Stop drinking before you even think of conceiving; THAT is the safest decision you can make!

    • Ashley says:

      If we’re operating from the perspective that if there is even a chance something could harm an unborn child then we should avoid it then why are pregnant women even leaving the house!

      To me it’s about probabilities, and weighing risks. We get on planes, and drive cars, and eat junk food, and go surfing, and talk on cellphones because we make judgments on the probabilities of particular outcomes and their severity. What this article is getting at is that the evidence isn’t so cut and dry, that when we look at the relationship that exists between alcohol and pregnancy a rationale person can make the decision for an occasional drink.

      If what you wrote is really how you think, and you are comfortable ignoring evidence, then you need to apply this standard to everything. No television, chocolate, standing in the sunshine or wearing make up for you!

      • Shannon says:

        We can’t weigh outcomes and probabilities of even mild alcohol use because there are genetic components that make some fetuses vulnerable to FASD more than others. As a parent of a child with FASD I am in plenty of groups with people who drank 1x/week and have a child with FASD. I also know people who drank more than that and have children without FASD. You can never 100% something bad happening to your child through the choices of others. Obviously never leaving the house is not reasonable. But abstaining from alcohol while pregnant is completely reasonable and will 100% a permanent disability.

    • Sonia W. says:

      Maybe we should just lock women up during pregnancy in case they do something that may increase their children’s risk of any abnormalities? Or just not let women in Canada have kids at all given all the bad things they’re exposed to these days, even if they follow all of the non-evidence based guidelines? Why not live in a police state where we tell all people what to do? Why not police parents once they have children, or just take their children away, given that parents are much more likely to cause irreparable harm through bad parenting than the harm anyone does by ignoring the guidelines that aren’t based on anything more than precaution and fear?

  • Geoffrey Forbes MD says:

    Your article undercuts the efforts of many people and many organizations to address the problem of FASD. You have a soapbox: please use it wisely.

    • Shannon says:

      Ask any parent of a child with FASD if they would risk even a single drop of alcohol in pregnancy after having lived with the consequences of it? The answer will always be NO. The fact that you are using this platform to even call into question the guidelines against alcohol in pregnancy is irresponsible. As the adoptiveparent of a child with FASD I can emphatically say it is not worth the risk. And part of the problem is not just that we don’t know if there is a safe amount of alcohol to consume in pregnancy, but that there is a genetic component that makes some fetuses more vulnerable to FASD than others. Some mothers have had extremely limited amounts of alcohol and had children who were profoundly affected and others who had more have had children who were only mildly affected. A child’s life is not a game of Russian roulette.

  • Mike says:

    As a foster parent of two boys born with FASD I guarantee you the only way to avoid having someone born without FASD is to completely abstain. I do not need a study to convince me otherwise.

  • Nicole says:

    I agree, why risk it?

    • Roxana says:

      I think that if one decides to have “A” alcoholic drink during their first, second or third trimester of pregnancy, it is more associated with a personal satisfaction and in a way, they are not putting the well-being of their unborn child as a first priority, but rather a short-term “happy” feeling, such as having a cold beer on a hot summer day.

  • Julia says:

    Why take that kind of chance?


Wendy Glauser


Wendy is a freelance health and science journalist and a former staff reporter with Healthy Debate.

Joshua Tepper


Joshua Tepper is a family physician and the President and Chief Executive Officer of North York General Hospital. He is also a member of the Healthy Debate editorial board.

Jeremy Petch


Jeremy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and has a PhD in Philosophy (Health Policy Ethics) from York University. He is the former managing editor of Healthy Debate and co-founded Faces of Healthcare

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