Friday, April 19, 2013

Mothers-to-be 'can safely enjoy two drinks a week without harming their baby' (and their child may be better behaved than if they abstained)

This is not exactly conclusive data but it suggests that any adverse effect is very small

Pregnant women who enjoy a couple of glasses of wine each week will not harm their baby’s development, claim researchers.

And their study suggests that such mothers-to-be may eventually find that their child is better behaved than if they had abstained from alcohol.

British researchers claim the latest findings should make mothers feel more relaxed about the occasional tipple.

Although official guidance says alcohol is best avoided in pregnancy, previous research shows light drinking does not adversely affect toddler development. The new study of almost 11,000 mothers confirms this finding also holds good for primary-age schoolchildren.

Women can safely drink a 175ml glass of wine, a 50ml glass of spirits or just under a pint of beer each week without damaging their child’s intellectual or behavioural development, the study found.

A team at University College London questioned mothers when their babies were nine months old about their drinking during pregnancy and other aspects of their health and wellbeing.

Visits were also made to the families when the children were seven, says a report in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Tests were carried out to assess their development in maths, reading and spatial skills, and questions were asked about their social and emotional behaviour.

The results showed boys and girls born to mothers who had one or two units of alcohol per week scored slightly higher on some tests than those born to non-drinkers.

They were also likely to have lower scores for behavioural problems than children of mothers who abstained, although adjustment for other factors diminished the differences.

Professor Yvonne Kelly, who led the research team, said: ‘There appears to be no increased risk of negative impacts of light drinking in pregnancy on behavioural or cognitive development in seven-year-old children.

‘While we have followed these children for the first seven years of their lives, further research is needed to detect whether any adverse effects of low levels of alcohol consumption in pregnancy emerge later in childhood.’

Just under 13 per cent of the mothers never drank, while almost 60 per cent chose to abstain while expecting.

Around one in four were light drinkers during pregnancy – consuming a couple of units a week – and 7 per cent drank more in pregnancy.

Heavy drinking in pregnancy is linked to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in children, which can cause a range of physical, mental and behavioural problems.

The issue of how much is safe to drink during pregnancy has caused controversy in recent years.

In 2007, the Department of Health published guidance saying pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol altogether, as should those who are trying to conceive. This replaced previous guidance which said it was safe for pregnant women to drink one to two units of alcohol per week. The Government said its update was not based on new research but was to provide consistent advice to all women.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence also advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

John Thorp, BJOG’s deputy editor-in-chief, said: ‘It remains unclear as to what level of alcohol consumption may have adverse outcomes, so this should not alter current advice.

‘If women are worried about consumption levels, the safest option would be to abstain from drinking during pregnancy.’


Old age 'is a state of mind' (?)

That is a rather exaggerated conclsion from the given data.  The sample is too small and the method too impressionistic to conclude anything, in fact

Old age is a state of mind as much as the body, according to a study which found that people who have a younger outlook are more healthy in old age.

People who consider themselves to be frail are more likely to abandon activities which can keep them healthy in old age such as taking regular exercise.

But others with a more positive attitude can remain socially active, healthy and enjoy a greater quality of life despite having equal or greater levels of physical weakness, a study found.

Researchers from Exeter University interviewed 29 people aged 66 to 98, who had varying levels of physical health and some of whom lived independently while others were in care homes.

Participants were asked about their experience of ageing and frailty to determine how their attitude could affect their health and quality of life.

Most participants, even those in the worst physical shape, maintained that they were still in good condition, with one commenting: "If people think that they are old and frail, they will act like they are old and frail".

But in the two people who did consider themselves frail, researchers identified a "cycle of decline" where their outlook had led them to withdraw from socialising and exercise – even though they were physically stronger than some other participants.

Previous studies have shown that elderly people who are physically active and have a rich social life remain healthier and happier in old age.

Krystal Warmoth, a PhD student who led the study, presented her findings at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society last week.

She said: "It is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"A person's beliefs about their self could lead to a loss of interest in participating in social and physical activities, poor health, stigmatisation, and reduced quality of life.

"You are as old as you feel and your own views of yourself, or taking on this identity of being frail, is not what you should be doing," she added. "You should try and keep positive about getting older and not assume you will be frail."


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