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Experts recommend that you avoid alcohol entirely when you're pregnant and trying to conceive. This includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as other public health officials in the United States.
There are still many unanswered questions about the risks of drinking moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy, including how much it takes to cause birth defects and why some babies seem to be affected and others don't.
We know that women who drink heavily during pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Babies with FAS have a constellation of severe lifelong problems: They're born smaller, often continue to grow poorly, and have physical abnormalities and learning and behavior problems.
But full-blown FAS is only the extreme end of the spectrum of what can happen when you drink alcohol during pregnancy. A broader category known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affects many children whose mothers drank various amounts while pregnant. These children don't have all of the physical features of FAS but do have learning and behavior problems.
There have been recent studies suggesting that low amounts of alcohol during pregnancy do not result in measurable risk. But these studies did not perform comprehensive formal testing of the children or account for other maternal and home factors.
Right now we simply don't know what amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy. The amount that is safe would likely be different for different women. So the best way to ensure that you have a baby that's not affected by alcohol is not to drink any alcohol while you're pregnant.