Mums warned of booze threat to babies' IQ
DRINKING while pregnant could lead to children being less intelligent, according to a Bristol study.
Even moderate exposure to alcohol – one or two glasses of wine a week – in the womb could have an effect on a child's IQ, the new research suggests.
The latest data has come out of the Children of the 90s study, which has followed the lives of children and their mothers since pregnancy.
Researchers at Bristol and Oxford universities have used the data from more than 4,000 mothers and their children in the city to establish the impact of drinking in pregnancy in what is believed to be the first study of its kind.
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The study looked at genes related to the processing of alcohol in the body and found they were strongly linked to children having a lower IQ when tested at the age of eight.
On average the research found that for every alcohol-related genetic modification children had an IQ almost two points lower.
This effect was only seen in women who were moderate drinkers and not in those who abstained from alcohol during pregnancy and researchers said this suggests that the exposure to alcohol in the womb was causing the difference in child IQ.
The mothers' alcohol intake was based on a questionnaire completed when they were 18 weeks pregnant with questions on the amount and frequency of alcohol they were consuming before pregnancy, during the first trimester and around the time when they first felt the baby move. It included questions on the average amount and frequency of alcohol consumption before the current pregnancy, during the first trimester, and in the previous two weeks or at the time when they first felt the baby move.
Another questionnaire was filled out when women were 32 weeks pregnant again asking for details of their alcohol consumption.
Any woman who reported drinking, even if it was less than one drink a week per week either in the first trimester or when she felt the baby first move was classed as drinking during pregnancy for the study.
They were also asked on these occasions how many days during the past month they had drunk two pints of beer or the equivalent.
The children's IQ was then tested when they were eight.
Dr Sarah Lewis, said: "Our results suggest that even at levels of alcohol consumption which are normally considered to be harmless, we can detect differences in childhood IQ, which are dependent on the ability of the foetus to clear this alcohol.
"This is evidence that even at these moderate levels, alcohol is influencing foetal brain development."