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Investigation: Drinking While Pregnant

New Studies Suggest Alcohol In Extreme Moderation Okay
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(Photo credit: CBS)

(Photo credit: CBS)

Kristine-Johnson-thumbnail Kristine Johnson
Kristine Johnson currently co-anchors the 5 p.m. & 11 p.m. news at...
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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.

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