Even a little drinking while pregnant ups miscarriage odds

accreditation
Even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are risky.
Even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are risky.

Just small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, researchers warn.

They analysed 24 studies conducted between 1970 and 2019 that included more than 231 000 pregnant women.

Common exposure

They found that drinking alcohol during pregnancy – even small amounts – increases odds of miscarriage by 19%. Among women who have fewer than five drinks a week, each additional drink a week during pregnancy was linked with a 6% higher risk of miscarriage.

"Since alcohol is one of the most common exposures in early pregnancy, it's critical to understand how consumption relates to miscarriage," said lead investigator Alex Sundermann, a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Adverse pregnancy outcomes, like foetal alcohol syndrome, are often associated in popular culture with heavy consumption. However, our meta-analysis indicates even a modest amount of alcohol use has a meaningful impact on miscarriage risk," she said in a university news release.

The review pointed to important gaps in knowledge, including how the timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy relates to miscarriage risk.

A previous study found that most women quit drinking after finding out they're pregnant, but no studies account for how this affects miscarriage risk.

Impact in first weeks

"Timing of alcohol exposure in pregnancy is undoubtedly meaningful but isn't well-studied," Sundermann said.

"The groundwork for foetal development is laid in those first weeks of gestation before pregnancy can be detected with a home test, and that is also the time when alcohol exposure is most prevalent. It's key that we understand the impact of consumption in those first weeks," she said.

Sundermann noted that one in three women experience miscarriage, but many never get answers about why their miscarriage occurred.

She emphasised the need for more research into risk factors for miscarriage.

"Most women are motivated to do anything they can for the health of their pregnancy. We want to provide this information to empower women to make the best decisions," Sundermann said.

The meta-analysis was recently published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
How do you feel about the impending replacement of the Eskom board?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Finally, time for Eskom's new dawn!
4% - 83 votes
It’ll be new faces, same problems
47% - 877 votes
Great - as long as they keep CEO André de Ruyter
49% - 907 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
18.03
+0.2%
Rand - Pound
19.34
-0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.30
+0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.59
+0.7%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.4%
Gold
1,631.29
+0.5%
Silver
18.44
+0.5%
Palladium
2,072.50
+1.4%
Platinum
853.86
+0.1%
Brent Crude
84.06
-2.5%
Top 40
57,621
+0.6%
All Share
64,026
+0.6%
Resource 10
56,997
+1.4%
Industrial 25
79,272
-0.3%
Financial 15
14,209
+1.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE