Drinking heavily during pregnancy has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome and could cause severe birth defects. But, does having one glass of wine or one beer have the same effect on the fetus? According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, consumption of small amounts of alcohol may have no effect on the fetus – physically, emotionally or cognitively.

Experts are concerned the study will give the wrong idea to pregnant women. Just because one glass of wine does not have the same effect as heavy alcohol consumption, does not mean pregnant women can drink excessively. Both the March of Dimes and Dr. Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC, maintain the stance that pregnancy is not the time for drinking alcohol. Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president of Research and Global Programs for the March of Dimes compares drinking during pregnancy to walking on a railroad track. "You can walk on a railroad track and not be hit by a train, but that doesn't mean it's a safe thing to do,” Katz says.

More than 11,000 infants before between September of 2000 and January of 2002 have been included in the study thus far. Researchers could be jumping the gun by reporting their findings because children have only been followed until the age of five. The study will continue to report on the 11,000 children in the study as they grow older. Until the study can be completed, doctors are suggesting pregnant women abstain from drinking alcohol.

Source: Mikaela Conley. ABC News Medical Unit. 6 October, 2010.