I’ll Admit When I’m Wrong (Follow Up Post on Alcohol During Pregnancy)

March 8, 2013 · 41 comments

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When I know that I’m right I could care less about controversy, negative or otherwise, and any of it that’s drummed up by one of my posts brings out responses in me like, “Whatever”, “We’ll have to agree to disagree”, or “Bring it on”.  (Such as my posts where I urge you not to blindly follow your doctor, myself, or anyone else regarding things like healthy fats or vaccine decisions!)

However, when I realize that I’m wrong, there’s only one thing to do:  write a follow up post and explain how my thinking has evolved this week…

Here’s the original post if you missed it:  “You Actually *Can* Drink Alcohol When You’re Pregnant!

The comments from those raising kids with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome just about broke my heart!

So I need to clarify some things.

beautiful babies smKristen’s Beautiful Babies book is loaded with solid nutritional information and great advice for those wanting to increase their fertility and grow healthy babies with even tempers.  (If you know anyone who wants to become pregnant, is pregnant now, or who has small children, please buy this for them and then send them the info to get a $199 e-course for free!  Click here to Pre-order the Beautiful Babies book.)  I still firmly believe that someone like Kristen, with common sense and good overall health, can drink a small amount during pregnancy (as stated in the original post) with no cause for worry.  As Kristen explains in her book, and as many others commented, this is the advice that doctors and midwives have been giving for years and it was the norm in traditional cultures as well.

But what’s got me freaked out is that there are a lot of people out there who do not have good health and who do not have common sense, not to mention that every body is SO different!  

So because I wouldn’t want someone to read the title of my original post and think, “Hey, yeah, I can drink when I’m pregnant, cool!” and not read the whole thing, or the comments, and take all the other things into consideration, well, that’s why I had to write a follow up post.

First, be aware that besides all the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome comments, there were some other very interesting comments, too, that really make you think.  I wanted to share a few of them here…

  • From Heather:  Our medical system likes to find one-sentence answers to things. The like to take the “active component” of an herb, standardize it, and sell it, without paying attention to the fact that the so-called “inactive” components are just as important, because they do things like mitigate side effects of the “active component”. They want to have single causes for the collections of symptoms we call “Autism” or “Asperger’s” or even “Fetal Alcohol Disorder”, when it’s pretty plain to anyone who pays attention to research that the real picture is more complicated than that. Obviously, there is more at work in fetal alcohol syndrome than _just_ consuming x amount of alcohol during pregnancy…and it is something that has changed in our makeup over the centuries (yes, I saw that list of older research–almost all of it was discussing alcoholism, NOT alcohol consumption). For that matter, what makes one person an alcoholic who can’t touch a drop and another person not? Is it solely genetic? Is it an environmental effect? A nutritional deficiency? Or some combination of the above, as Autism seems most likely to be? It would be nice if doctors admitted to not knowing when they don’t actually know something, but the medical profession has a nasty tendency toward arrogance that way, so they say, “We know this” when they mean, ‘We think this might be it, but we DON’T know’”.
  • Also from Heather:  “The research is saying that light to moderate alcohol consumption is safe, yet some of you posting here are saying you have or care for children who were harmed by just a few drinks during pregnancy. I think that the person who was wondering about choline deficiency is onto something. Maybe it’s not choline, but it really does sound like someone ought to be researching a possible nutritional deficiency that makes a developing baby susceptible to damage by the mom consuming even a small amount of alcohol. (One also wonders if any of these children are NOT vaccinated. FAS that doesn’t show up in babyhood would be an awfully handy label for what is actually vaccine damage. Vaccine-caused Autism is brain damage, too, after all.)  There HAS to be something more going on, if we are having kids being harmed in utero by a New Year’s Eve toast.”
  • Jeanmarie:  “On the other hand, an Irish guy I used to work with told me that Guinness used to be recommended to pregnant women as a nutritional boost! I doubt it was pints and pints a day, and if I were pregnant, I would probably err on the side of caution, but it’s the total package — the diet, supplements, lifestyle/stress, sleep, genetics, environment — that determines the health of the baby. No doubt alcohol drunk by a pregnant woman on an insufficient diet is going to do more damage.
  • Meghan:  We are all wonderfully and fearfully made, which means no one is the same. One glass of red wine for someone who processes alcohol slower than normal will affect the fetus differently than someone whose system can detoxify quicker.”
  • This was an important comment, also from Meghan:  “My heart goes out to all the parents and families who are helping children who have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Thank you for loving them and giving them a chance when no one else would! You. Rock.”
  • Sarah (in response to a Mom who had six drinks when pregnant and has a child with FAS):  “Are your doctors sure of the diagnosis? Mild ASD and mild FASD* overlap significantly. If you admit to drinking doctors will blame it on the alcohol and give an FASD diagnosis.  One of the weird things about FASD is that one woman can drink like a fish as still have a normal healthy baby and another woman have next to nothing and have a child with FASD.”
  • Leslye:  “In the last year I have become well educated as to the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. One outstanding fact I have learned is that each body receives the effect of any amount of alcohol differently. Thus it’s a gamble to have one drink during your pregnancy because you don’t yet know what kind of body you are forming in your body. Who would want to take such a chance with a forming human being, one’s baby?”
  • One commenter almost talked me out of writing this follow up post, just because I so disagree with so much of what the CDC says:  “The CDC (Center for Disease Control) says there is no safe amount of alcohol you can drink while pregnant.”
  • Brian said it best, and basically this is exactly where my brain went, too:  “Great comments by all above (I can even excuse the rudeness of some given the sensitivity of the subject for those living with FAS-impacted children). Though initially I was intrigued by the referenced study, my views evolved as I read through the posts. I am now of the opinion that though some mother’s metabolism may be able to safely handle a small amount of alcohol, many won’t. And without being able to be certain which side of the line you fall on, it simply isn’t worth the risk.”

So when I’m wrong I’m wrong…

The fact is, we still don’t know enough about all of this to put out blanket statements (like mine the other day) saying it’s ok to drink when pregnant.  Because, as I said above, everyone is not healthy and everyone certainly does not have common sense.  So if I’m going to err, I’ll err on the side of caution and weigh in saying that it’s just better, as many said, to not take the risk.

Lastly, don’t forget:

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CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER THE BEAUTIFUL BABIES BOOK.

Then email your Amazon sales receipt to booklaunch@foodrenegade.com by March 18th to get your FREE Beautiful Babies online class enrollment.

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    { 41 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} March 8, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Good for you, Kelly. I had an occasional drink while pregnant, but I think you are wise to change your conclusions given the conversation in the other post. As you say, not everyone has common sense, and making a blanket statement that drinking while pregnant could be misconstrued. Interesting conversation . . .

    Reply

    2 natasha March 8, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Thank you. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to ammend the original post to have this conclusion there, too, for all those who won’t click on over to this post?

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    3 Kelly March 8, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Yes I will, it only went live this morning & I haven’t had a chance yet.

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    4 Jennifer March 8, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Thank you for carefully considering all of the comments and for following up on your original post. I also agree that you should link the posts together so folks can follow the trail.

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    5 Rose March 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Sorry, I don’t feel you had anything to apologize for. Since when are we so PC at a traditional foods blog?

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    6 Kelly March 8, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I’m not ‘politically incorrect’ in many of my views just for the sake of being so. I’m that way because that’s where I believe the truth is on many issues.

    Based on my reasons above, I felt in my heart that I needed to write today’s post.

    Kelly

    Reply

    7 Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama March 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

    It’s important to be accurate based on the research and information available. Just because one study says something and others have anecdotal evidence corroborating it does not mean that you will not also find both studies and anecdotes on the other side. It has nothing to do with being PC, but scientifically accurate. And with a large following it is important not to make sweeping recommendations with little evidence. Good for you, Kelly, for updating the conversation.

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    8 Jodee Kulp March 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

    The discussion from your post definitely drew people to your great blog and opened up honest and heartfelt discussion. Whenever discussion can happen there is an increase in knowledge. Bet you gain increased readership from this one.

    Reply

    9 Denise March 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

    There is no reason for anyone, in my opinion, to have alcohol any way. The very small and to some degree questionable benefits of certain types of wine can be easily gotten in other ways from other sources.

    My mom is an alcoholic and I never touch the stuff partly for that reason and mostly because the majority of Bible references to alcohol are negative. Even the drink at the last supper was almost certainly new wine and not an alcoholic beverage.

    Even those who drink very minimally can become dependent on the effects of alcohol – relaxes, makes one uninhibited, and etc. But since it is very deceptive it is also very difficult for the one drinking to discern when they have had too much.

    There are also negative effects. It is a drug. It suppresses the central nervous system, destroys brain cells, can tend to be abused – unknowingly -as a stress reliever.

    There are so many other options that do what alcohol does and do it safely, that I am of the opinion that, pregnant or not, alcohol is not a good choice for anyone.

    Reply

    10 Jennifer Stoddard March 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    It is simply not true that the majority of Bible references to alcohol are negative. On the contrary, wine holds an important theological place in Scripture as a symbol of blessing, prosperity, and rejoicing. We look forward to the wedding feast with Christ in the New Jerusalem by drinking wine. Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of positive references to wine (and, yes, Proverbs also warns against being drunk, but it’s really not hard at all to know when you should stop). God blesses people by giving them lots of wine–see the Prophets.

    You are free to hold your conviction about drinking, but you may not hold others to that. To do so is legalistic, plain and simple. The issue of alcohol is most definitely an issue of Christian liberty.

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    11 Bethany Nash March 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    ^Thank you. My thoughts exactly.

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    12 Erin March 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

    It has never been worth the risk to me, nor do I drink at all while nursing. Besides the risk of alcohol to the baby I would never want to fall asleep too deeply during a night feeding & risk having her slide into a position that would be dangerous. My desire for alcohol should never come before my baby’s well being.

    Reply

    13 Audry March 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Humility is a virtue. As Father says in the confessional, God will always give us opportunities to practice our virtues. Congratulations on practicing yours!

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    14 DS March 8, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Kelly, you and your two posts give us a lot to consider. I admire your character for “correcting” yourself today. My husband always says “all things in moderation” and while I agree in general, I think erring on the side of caution is a good thing for pregnant and nursing mothers.

    For Denise, Jesus changed water to wine at Cana. , “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This was real wine.

    There is also this: 1 Timothy 5:23
    No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

    My mother was an alcoholic too, so I drink very carefully and not often. I know that some people are very susceptible to addiction. However you can read on the internet that people who drink about 3-5 oz. of red wine 3-5 times per week live longer than heavy drinkers and non-drinkers. Moderation in all things. Rigid thinking is not a good thing either.

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    15 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I don’t think you were wrong but I do like the clarification. Last but not least, I respect you for doing what you feel is the right thing to do. Thank you.

    Reply

    16 Heather March 8, 2013 at 11:15 am

    This is well done. The extent to which FASD is being used as a catch-all, and the way in which it is being used as such, frightens me, though! Wow!

    By the way, my actual drinking, pregnant or not, doesn’t work out to one drink a week. Heck, it probably doesn’t work out to one a month, and would be wine, cider, or mead, generally. Hubs keeps beer around, and likes one every day or two, but I don’t much like beer.

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    17 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    You did the right thing.

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    18 Tina March 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your previous post made me so uncomfortable and worried as to the impact it could have.

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    19 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

    coming from a public health background, I understand the CDC’s blanket statement on alcohol and pregnancy. It’s exactly as you say – there will always be some who will read *some* alcohol is safe and continue their drinking habits. So from a public health point of view, it is safer to just make the blanket statement. The same was said for coffee during pregnancy, but it has been shown that a cup is just fine. My issue with alcohol and pregnancy is that when most of the damage can be done is usually when the woman doesn’t even know she is pregnant. So my standard advice to women is that if you are trying to conceive, you should avoid alcohol. There are stronger reasons also for women to avoid alcohol like the fact that it takes us 24 – 36 hours longer to metabolize in our liver and causes an inflammatory response. Will/does that stop me from partaking in adult beverages? no, but I do lots of coconut water :) anyway, I thought it was a brave post. We should always queston the status quot.

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    20 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

    It is not known what amount of alcohol is safe. I would want to give my child every chance to be perfect. I would err on the side of caution. FAS is so awful.

    Reply

    21 Tiffany March 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I know that when I was pregnant with my first child my doctor told me that one is ok – one beer, one glass of wine or one shot – not all three! He said you can enjoy a drink now and then and only one. that is what I did – on a special event or occasionally I would enjoy one glass of wine and that was it. Both kids turned out fine – I probably did more harm with all of the commercial cakes, sugar and crap I would eat while pregnant than I did from enjoying a glass of wine once in a while.

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    22 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Why even chance it? I think it’s selfish to even take that risk.

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    23 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I like to stay clear of right and wrong personally because I think black and white I thinking often misses most of where life is actually lived … in the gray area. Nonetheless, I think when it comes to this topic, it is better to err the side of caution since there may be so many variables involved in how a fetus is impacted by alcohol. I personally don’t think it is worth the risk, and would feel very uncomfortable encouraging anything that could potentially be risky during pregnancy when there is so much at stake.

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    24 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

    her ebook needs to be changed.

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    25 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

    it reflects on the whole online WAPF community

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    26 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Margaret, have you read that chapter?

    Reply

    27 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

    The book hasn’t been released yet I don’t think.

    Reply

    28 CJ March 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Thank you. Most would not have even considered any of the information given or done this. Yes, those with FAS children do keep an eye on this information (okay to drink while pregnant) when it comes up in media, web, etc.
    Yes ASD is much closer to FAS than most people will admit or realize. They have done studies in Europe on the connection, but you will not see that info in the U.S. I have three children with FAS, though one of them has the official dx of ASD instead. Its a complicated combo of things that happened in order to get to where they are and the issues that they have. It is also a daily fight…you have to fight for services, fight for testing (vitamin & mineral issues are rampant), and do the research yourself to try to help your child. It is a trigger (drinking while pregnant) when you have so many parents working so hard everyday to help children that suffer from FAS.

    Reply

    29 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Right. So reserve judgement. And read Kelly’s update.

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    30 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I appreciate the amendment. I am the adoptive mom of five and at least three of them suffer from biomom drinking during pregnancy. I can not fathom ever ever ever having a good excuse for the tiniest sip of alcohol while pregnant. My children will suffer their whole lives. Why risk it???? FAS is awful. It’s lonely. It’s degrading. My sons are behind in everything, even their height weight. Just this morning, my teenage son was saying that all other boys his age weigh more then he does, and he’s right. They struggle soo hard academically but it is never as good as their classmates even though they are both two grades behind for their age. It is so discouraging for them because they try so so hard. They have friends but only because here and there, there are a few boys who are kind enough to stick with them, to listen to their chatter, who include them in some of their activities. But they almost never get phone calls or invitations. They are often lonely.
    My third child who is affected is much more adept socially but it is probably not a good thing as she isn’t able to control herself and doesn’t have good judgement. So she would be safer at home being lonely then out with friends.
    FAS is one hundred percent preventable. Please don’t risk burning your babies brain cells.

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    31 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook March 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Is there even one reason anyone needs to drink while pregnant?!! Why risk it? Why potentially bring harm to your child? Being a foster/adoptive mom, ive come into contact with children exposed to drugs and/or alcohol. I can say hands down…being exposed to alcohol in the womb has more detrimental effects than being exposed to drugs in the womb.

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    32 Helen March 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Oh it’s one rule for you healthy superior foodies & one rule for the other “unhealthy” people with no common sense haha, Kelly to me you’ve basically said the same thing again but implied you are all smarter & better evolved than the rest of the general population.

    This post below previously posted by “la” in response to the original article sums up the problem well, no alcohol is safe when pregnant or if breast feeding.
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    This isn’t a matter of “if you let them have one drink, they’ll have 10″. It’s basic biology.

    A fetus is constantly growing and specialized cells are divide and building.

    One of the cells that are affected are “Radial Glial Cells”. These are found in the brain and have a cell body and an extension. The cell body is towards the center of the brain and the extension grows outward. Other neurons “climb” the extension like a beanstalk. When just one of these cells are damaged, it affect 5 LAYERS of brain tissue. Since these cells are throughout the cortex, an insult at 1 time can cause multiple sites of damage which causes a “swiss cheese effect” where some areas are damaged and others are not.

    Progenitor cells are near the bases of the radial glial cells. These Cells divide to create another progenitor cell and one specialized cell. These are the cells that climb up the radial glial cells.

    Alcohol is one of the FEW things that cross the blood-brain barrier. Alcohol can cause brain damage in a few ways:

    First, alcohol can kill cells buy destroying the cell wall or inactivating enzymes within the cell.

    Second, Alcohol prevents cells from reproducing.

    Third, alcohol prevents cells from climbing to the proper location.

    These cells are so tiny and it doesn’t take contact many alcohol molecules of alcohol to interrupt normal function.

    We want to believe that tiny amounts won’t hurt because, well, it’s a tiny amount but consider a botulism bacteria. A man touched infected juice with his tongue (after it didn’t smell right) and rinsed it off immediately. Within an hour he had lost his function to breath. His blood was take and injected into 12 mine. The 6 that were treated with the antitoxin lived and the other 6 died. That tiny drop was enough to kill an adult and the trace amounts in his blood were enough to kill 6 mice.

    Tiny amount of things reach cells and cause damage. Alcohol is no different.

    Reply

    33 Jeanmarie March 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    You showed your character today, Kelly.(I’m not surprised, of course.) Hugs!

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    34 shannon March 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    God bless you Kelly. As I stated in your first post about this subject, I’m a long time reader and that post was the first one I really disagreed with. The older I get, the more I admire when people say “I was wrong”; and the older I get the more I say it myself :)

    Reply

    35 Wanda March 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Kelly – Thank you so much for your follow up blog post in regards to alcohol and pregnancy. I have so much respect for you. Knowledge is power. Nobody wants to do something that could possibly do something to hurt their baby. Thanks for letting people know!

    Reply

    36 margaret March 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    it was in someones hands, and this was a direct quote,”but if you’d like to enjoy a little wine now and then, it’s ok!” I would assume there are other comments that would support that naive opinion.

    Do you know WAPF, Sarah the Healthy Home Economist or Sally Fallon’s position on this? It reflects on all the blogs, the whole community. I need to know if Sally’s new baby and child care book says anything similar, because i sent it directly to my adult neuro-typical daughter in the healthcare feild.

    Reply

    37 Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles March 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    It’s so hard to make a point clear in a soundbite … I’ve had the problem with some of my posts of people reading a headline, or part of the post and not getting the subtlety of the overall message. I agree in this case clarification is needed just because many will miss the discussion on the gray area. Hugs Kelly :-)

    Reply

    38 Kari March 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Kelly,
    I want to thank you for this. It is so important for women to have information about the risk. This isn’t about preaching or shaming anyone, most people just aren’t aware of how damaging alcohol is to the developing fetus.

    For 5 years I worked with a passionate group of volunteers to put together a “Pregnant Pause” event in my city to celebrate alcohol free pregnancies. We held this event at a bar on a Friday night…until it got too big and we needed to use the civic center! We invited area bartenders to get together and make their best non-alcoholic drink and the pregnant women who attended were the judges of the contest! The message was to still go out with your friends and have fun when you are pregnant, but take a pause from your alcohol use for 9 months and enjoy a non-alcoholic drink. And the drinks entered in the contest every year were incredible!

    We had a traveling trophy for the bars that entered and for weeks before the event we had bartenders on the radio trash talking each other and issuing challenges. One of our events had 189 pregnant women attend! All received free diaper bags and a chance to win wonderful door prizes like strollers, pregnancy massages, baby carriers, maternity clothes, baby toys, etc…(all donated by companies that LOVED this idea!) We even had volunteer artists painting pregnant bellies at the event one year…they were beautiful!

    FASD is heartbreaking but it is 100% preventable. Thank you for helping to raise awareness with this post. ~Kari

    Reply

    39 Hannah March 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Just wanted to weigh-in on this, since I didn’t get a chance to comment on your previous post. I had several drinks (spread out) over the course of two pregnancies and never had a problem. Both of my kids were born healthy and have no significant problems to date. But then I got pregnant again and immediately felt that I couldn’t handle any alcohol, not even a sip. Let me just clarify that I like to have a glass of wine on occasion, and a beer or whiskey several times a week with my husband, so it’s rather unusual for me to not drink at all. I never did have alcohol during that last pregnancy, but I miscarried twins anyway. My body had changed so much, my metabolism had slowed down significantly, and my nutrient levels were so low (my kids were born 19 months apart) that my body knew it couldn’t process alcohol and grow babies at the same time. So while I used to be the first to say, “Go ahead and drink that cocktail while you’re pregnant!”, I would now be cautious and say, “Listen closely to your body and let it guide you, and if you’re not used to listening to your body, then stay away from alcohol while your pregnant.” Thank you, Kelly, for posting this follow-up. It can be hard to admit when we’re wrong or misguided, but I think that this is too important an issue to make light of. Kudos. :) And I love your blog and will most definitely continue reading it.

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    40 Deb March 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you Kelly. I admire your willingness to read the comments that you received on this post, and to ammend your previous position. I especially liked that you said you aren’t ‘politically incorrect’ for the sake of being so, but because of what you believe. Hats off.

    Reply

    41 Lydia April 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I really appreciated all aspects of this post. Thank you for your thoughtful honesty.

    Reply

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