Yes or no? For most people, the answer is an obvious "no." But some women--and obstetricians--are starting to wonder. From today's New York Times:
Drinking during pregnancy quickly became taboo in the United States after 1981, when the Surgeon General began warning women about the dangers of alcohol. The warnings came after researchers at the University of Washington identified Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a group of physical and mental birth defects caused by alcohol consumption, in 1973. In its recommendations, the government does not distinguish between heavy drinking and the occasional beer: all alcohol poses an unacceptable risk, it says.
Many American obstetricians, skeptical about the need for total abstinence, quietly tell their patients that an occasional beer or glass of wine--no hard liquor--is fine.
"If a patient tells me that she’s drinking two or three glasses of wine a week, I am personally comfortable with that after the first trimester," said Dr. Austin Chen, an obstetrician in TriBeCa. “But technically I am sticking my neck out by saying so.”
Americans' complicated relationship with food and drink--in which everything desirable is also potentially dangerous--only becomes magnified in pregnancy.
HUP author Janet Golden (Message in a Bottle: The Making of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is quoted in the article, noting that "little attention has been paid to pregnant women at the low end of the consumption spectrum because there isn’t a clear threat to public health there."