The Straits Times
Published on Nov 15, 2012

Even moderate drinking in pregnancy may affect child's IQ


LONDON (REUTERS) - Women who drink even moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant may risk lowering child's intelligence levels, according to a study by British scientists.

Advice to pregnant women about drinking is contradictory, with some guidelines recommending no alcohol at all and others suggesting the odd drink now and then is safe.

But in a study described as "hugely important" by one expert, researchers using genetic analysis of more than 4,000 mothers and children found that drinking between one and six units of alcohol a week during pregnancy can lead to lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores by the time a child is eight.

"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," said Ms Sarah Lewis of Bristol University, who led the study.