Answered by Wendy Paris on Monday, June 1, 2009
For any woman who wants to give birth to a healthy baby, (and really, who doesn't?) her safest course is not to indulge in alcohol at all, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). "Women who stop alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use during their pregnancies have healthier babies than those who do not." The more a woman drinks while pregnant—especially during the first trimester—the greater the risk of having a miscarriage or otherwise endangering the fetus. Risks to the unborn child include fetal alcohol syndrome, the most common cause of mental retardation, hyperactivity, and poor muscle control. Babies can also be shorter, weigh less, and have abnormalities of the face and the heart. "One glass of wine with dinner, twice a week, probably won't cause any harm," admits Iffath Hoskins, M.D., a high-risk obstetrician and the chairman of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University Downtown Hospital. "Unfortunately, nobody really knows the specific amount of alcohol that is safe because it's related to how a person processes alcohol and, more important, how many weeks along the pregnancy is." So save the champagne toast for after the stork has made its delivery.