SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah health officials hope pregnant women do not pay attention to a new study that says light drinking is OK during pregnancy.
Nurses and counselors at the Utah Pregnancy Risk Line still counsel women to stay away from alcohol, even though a study by University College London (UCL) found no difference between abstinence from drinking and light drinking.
There is overwhelming evidence from more than 30 years of research that directly links drinking during pregnancy to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other disorders. -Utah Dept. of Health
Registered nurse and health educator Al Romeo says the study was flawed because of the length of time that passed before mothers were asked the questions.
"It's difficult to remember back over several months what I had on a particular day and how much I had," he explains.
Researchers at UCL looked at the cognitive and behavioral performance of children born to women who recalled being "light drinkers" in pregnancy compared to children of women who usually drink, but who stated they did not consume alcohol during pregnancy.
Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, one of the doctors who first identified Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in 1973, said, "The women who participated in this study were asked long after their babies were born to remember accurately about the specific amounts of alcohol they had to drink.
"Under any circumstance it's difficult to get good information on how much and exactly when a woman drank, but this particular study was even more susceptible to error due to the length of time that had passed before the mothers were asked the questions."
It is estimated that each year in the U.S. more than 40,000 babies are born with FASD. Rates of FASD are estimated to be 10 per 1,000 births. -Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition
Romeo says decades of research show alcohol use causes birth defects, developmental delays and other learning problems.
"Why take a chance on these types of things when we know that no drinking is OK?" he asks.
Romeo says light drinking for one woman is different than light drinking for another woman. Plus, every woman and every fetus metabolizes alcohol differently.
The Utah Department of Health encourages women who are pregnant or planning to conceive to talk to their doctors about drinking alcohol during pregnancy.