I’d like to reiterate the perspective regarding alcohol use during pregnancy — “pregnancy and alcohol do not mix” — to present the opposite view that Dr. Emily Oster, University of Chicago associate professor of economics, expressed in an Aug. 20 Telegram article (“Economics professor debunks some time-honoured pregnancy advice.”)
In my now almost 40 years of clinical experience and research regarding the issue of intrauterine fetal alcohol exposure, I have personally diagnosed over 450 cases of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Each case was documented with variable histories of maternal alcohol use in terms of frequency, quantity and type of alcoholic beverages used, from “hardly anything at all” to admitted significant daily/weekend use and a significant number from the in-between category of “socially acceptable/advised by my physician.”
My own experience, and that of innumerable other respected clinicians and researchers on FASD in Canada, the U.S. and other countries, provides the advice that alcohol should not be used during pregnancy, not because there is a one-to-one correlation between alcohol use and eventual problems with the product of conception, but because there are many other factors that should be taken into account and unfortunately these are not routinely considered in the usual medical evaluation prior to planning a pregnancy.
As a public health measure in the interest of the offspring, not using alcohol during pregnancy is the best advice, and if needed, specific counselling by a knowledgeable clinician can be sought.
Dr. Ted O. Rosales