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52% of French Women Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy

posted 02:29 PM EST, Mon May 05, 2008
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52% of French Women Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy © Photo: Blmurch

52% of French women, as compared to only 12% of American women, admit to drinking during pregnancy.

More than half of French women continue to drink alcohol during pregnancy, almost 15% binge drink at least once during their prenatal days, and the reason most often given to self-explain their behavior – a lack of knowledge about the risks alcohol poses to the developing fetus.

A study out of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, published in this month's edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research had researchers track the habits of 837 pregnant women between July 2003 and June 2004. During prenatal doctor's appointments, the women were asked to answer questions about their drinking behaviors during pregnancy. 52.2% admitted to having consumed alcohol at least once during the 9 months, and 13.9% admitted to having binge drank (consumed 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a sitting) during the their pregnancy. Of the 800+ women, 2 gave birth to children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Lead researcher, Ingrid de Chazeron, said that she was very surprised at the level of ignorance amongst the French women participating in the study, and compared the 52% of French women admitting to having used alcohol to 13% of American women, who admitted to alcohol use during pregnancy. She explained that the French women likely drink more during their pregnancies as alcohol is more integrated into the food and culture of the nation, and because French women at the time were not well informed of the risks of pre-natal alcohol consumption.

De Chazeron admits that scientists do not yet know how much alcohol it takes to cause fetal alcohol syndrome, or other alcohol related developmental delays, but she says that with the risks involved, no drinking during pregnancy is definitely the recommended course of action.

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