Heavy drinking in the first third of pregnancy is linked to premature birth.
|Women who drink heavily in the early stages of pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely, even if they stop after the first trimester, a new study has shown.
The study of 4,719 Australian women found that there was almost an 80 per cent higher risk of premature birth among women who drank heavily in the first third of pregnancy and then stopped.
Babies born before 40 weeks tend to run the risk of health problems at birth and in years to come.
However, with as many as 40 per cent of pregnancies being unplanned, the new study, published in BJOG, the international journal of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is likely to increase concern for women who are not aware that they are pregnant until they are several weeks into the pregnancy.
Colleen O'Leary, one of the lead authors of the study, said: "Our research shows pregnant women who drink more than one to two standard drinks per occasion and more than six standard drinks per week increase their risk of having a premature baby, even if they stop drinking before the second trimester.
"Women should be advised that during pregnancy, drinking alcohol above low levels increases the risk to the baby and that the safest choice is not to drink alcohol during pregnancy."