Investigation: Drinking While Pregnant

New Studies Suggest Alcohol In Extreme Moderation Okay

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It has long been taboo, but now is a growing trend: moms to be drinking for two.

And believe it or not, some doctors say drinking alcohol while pregnant might not be so bad.

The question then becomes how much is too much?

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reports the second a woman finds out she’s pregnant she’s told to take off those high heels, put down that sushi and stop using hair dye – all things women are told are not healthy during pregnancy.

“A lot of women that I know personally feel like we’re being treated like children as soon as we become pregnant,” April Peveteaux said.

At the top of the list of don’ts is drinking alcohol.

“Last night I went out to dinner with my husband and I took a sip of his beer to try it because it was a new kind and I was really nervous, like looking around — who is going to judge me,” Tiffany Brubaker said.

“I think a lot of bartenders and wait staff feel that it is their responsibility, not maybe their responsibility, but their place to say, ‘I’m not comfortable serving you,’” Katie MacKinnon added.

“We’re completely judgmental. We’re judgmental about the way other people parent their child and we start being judgmental the moment a woman conceives,” author Randi Hutter Epstein said.

But now, a growing number of expectant mothers tired of being told “no” are saying yes to moderate drinking. And new research is backing them up.

“I think for most women, we’re talking a half a glass of wine on a Saturday night,” Hutter Epstein said.

Hutter Epstein said she should know. She’s not only a mother of four and an author of a new book about pregnancy but she’s also a doctor.

“I believe that we have to really relax and if that means that you’re going to have a glass of wine every now and then and it helps you remain relaxed then that’s a good thing,” Hutter Epstein said.

So what does the new research say? Two new studies — one from the United Kingdom and the other published in the Journal of Pediatrics — found that limited drinking was okay, even safe.

But that doesn’t mean every day.

“If she chooses to have maybe one or two drinks in a week that may be okay. It’s not a guarantee it is, but it’s also not a guarantee it’s bad,” OBGYN Dr. Iffath Hoskins said.

Hoskins said each case is different and should be discussed with your doctor. But one thing is for sure: despite the new studies on moderate drinking, long-term, frequent and chronic exposure to alcohol has been proven to cause harm, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

“You want the best possible outcome for your baby, therefore it’s a private decision and a personal decision between the patient and her doctor,” Dr. Hoskins said.

Mother of two Peveteaux said she’s not surprised by the studies, since she drank moderately through both her pregnancies.

“Women and doctors are scared and they are scared of what could possibly go wrong so they start marking things off the list that may be perfectly fine, just for the off-chance that somebody could misinterpret having a glass of wine with being a full-blown alcoholic,” Peveteaux said.

Some expectant mothers, who are relaxing the rules on what they can and cannot consume, said they’re not doing anything women in Europe haven’t been doing for decades.

All women should be aware that binge drinking while pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, one of the most common causes of mental retardation. For more information on the syndrome and the other risks increased by drinking, click here.

For more information on many of the women interviewed for this story, please click here.

More from Kristine Johnson
  • jojo

    How about if you drank a lot of alcohol and you didnt realize you were pregnant, what are the chances of there being a problem?

  • Vilijidiot

    When did we start spelling “you” as just “u”?

  • Nancy D'Amodio

    I have raised a child from birth to adulthood who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. How do you know how much alcohol is going to the fetus’s brain. Once the alcohol goes there and does damage it is permanent. I was a foster parent and adopted my son at 1 yr old. He has nermous problems, He has an IQ of 68 He is 24 with the emotional maturity of a twelve year old. Everytime a pregnant woman drinks so does the baby. It is selfish and not fair to the child to drink during pregnancy. Why can’t you stop for 9 months.

  • Aceof Spades

    So why take the chance in drinking. There is a bunch of maybe’s in this story. Maybe it will harm you maybe it wont. So why take the chance. Is drinking that important that you are willing to put health in danger.

  • Shahzada

    Normally I dont leave a comment, but after watching this story I was almost compelled. I’m not a doctor or any type of authority on the issues dealing with health. And I am certainly not an overzealous judgmental person either. I just want to understand whether these women are drinking even the slightest bit of alcohol to exercise their freedom to do so, or because they resist the craving for it so much so they are willing to take on the risks of fetal alcohol syndrome by doing so.

    Now these are the only two reasons I can think of for doing something that ultimately serves no greater purpose and both acts are inherently selfish. I agree they have the right to exercise that freedom to consume the tiniest bit of alcohol because ever since the end of Prohibition they have been granted that much. But at the same time they have the freedom to choose to put the needs of their child’s over their own.

    In my humble opinion, if these mothers feel the need to risk their child’s safety for the sake of a little enjoyment it’s just a bad indicator of how they may behave as parents. Once they make that little sacrifice that ultimately leads to even bigger sacrifices.

    And never will I ever look at a pregnant woman and think anything negative. It is her decision to make what is best for her child. I just hope she sincerely believes its the right one.

    • Jan

      Just curious Shahzada, are you prochoice? Go ahead and judge what a woman drinks during a pregnancy but I bet most of you who are judgmental would escort a woman into the abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancy. just to excercise her right to choose. Let a woman make her own decisions about her own child’s health.

  • prettysanchez

    John Mahon you sound like a moron why not have pregnant women pick up a cigarette and sniff a little coke with that glass of alcohol.

    No child is perfect but you can increase the chances of having a live and healthy birth if you remember to think about someone other than yourself while carrying that life around inside of you. if you can’t go the 36-40 weeks of pregnancy without taking a sip maybe u shouldn’t get pregnant.

    And I know a glass a wine isn’t going to hurt an unborn child by why take a chance? some women don’t know how to stop at 1 glass.

    • Freethinker

      @prettysanchez. It’s you that sound like a moron. It is case u forgot the well being of the fetus is directly related to the well being of the expectant mother. Just because it’s become standard thinking that pregnant women must make special sacrifices for their entire term, it seems that virtually any form of abstinence is considered prudent and responsible. It does matter if there is no evidence (or even evidence to the contrary) to support the practice. I’m all for using common sense and taking whatever reasonable steps u can to ensure the health of the unborn baby. But if a pregnant woman truly desires a small glass of wine with her dinner and no legitimate evidence suggests she should not, then who are we to judge that woman for her choice? Perhaps we should also chatise expectant mothers for taking city buses or for listening to loud music.

  • John Mahon

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a glass of wine during pregnancy! Mothers in my age group ( 60’s) drank with no significant effects on the fetus! Todays society is so damn righteous & full of themselves that they want a perfect baby! Guess what1 There’s no such thing!

    • Carola May

      Yes, and mothers ‘in your age group’ also smoked and had no ill effects on their babies too. So the hysteria against smoking is also over done, just keep it in moderation. I quit drinking alcohol years ago but I allowed myself 6 cigarettes a day during my pregnancies with my 2 lovely children and they were healthy, happy babies and wonderful bright kids. USAmerican society is so judgmental and puritanical. Lighten up!

  • Nick

    I thought drink ANYTIME is mandatory in Long Island.

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