I have never been a big drinker, but like to have wine with dinner sometimes. How much alcohol is it safe to consume during pregnancy? - Mary in Metairie, Louisiana
The expert answers
Alcohol is a fetal teratogen -- a substance that can cause a fetal malformation. A well-documented syndrome, the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), is associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. FAS is characterized by:
There is a dose-dependent risk of malformation to the fetus, however, the exact threshold is not known. Alcohol use can be associated with malformations and nervous system, defects in the absence of full-blown FAS (the Fetal Alcohol Effect). With such uncertainty regarding the threshold for fetal impact, it is best to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy.
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