A new study has found even one alcoholic drink during pregnancy can be harmful.
A new study has found even one alcoholic drink during pregnancy can be harmful.

Just one drink while pregnant alters a baby’s face

CONSUMING even small amounts of alcohol while pregnant has an impact on an unborn baby, a new Australian study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows.

The study, which looked at 415 white children from Melbourne, found that any amount of alcohol has an impact on a child's facial structure.

A 3D craniofacial image (that is, an image of the bones in the face) of each child was taken at 12 months and analysed against data taken from their mothers in relation to their pregnancies.

It has been long understood that children diagnosed with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders often have changes to their facial structures as a result of their mother's alcohol consumption.

However, this study showed a clear difference in the facial structures of the children, born to mothers who completely abstained from alcohol during their pregnancy when compared to mothers who did, even if that consumption was limited and confined to her first trimester.

The study says this is the first time evidence has been found to link even low levels of alcohol consumption with outcomes on the baby.

Lead researcher Evi Muggli told The Herald Sun the research would help shape the advice offered to pregnant women about alcohol consumption.

"We already know that high levels of drinking can cause problems in the child, but there is not much evidence of the ­effect on low, moderate or sporadic drinking, which is more common in the pregnant population.

"Some women may have had some alcohol before they even know they are pregnant, and we haven't had the evidence to give them advice."

Researchers were not able to link the changes in facial structure to neurological outcomes in children of mothers who consumed low amounts of alcohol.

However, guidelines for pregnant women from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council recommend women avoid alcohol altogether as the safest approach.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot.

News Corp Australia

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