Tuesday 20 August 2019

Women who breastfeed can drink alcohol, say experts


Guidelines: Breastfeeding mums can drink in moderation. Stock picture
Guidelines: Breastfeeding mums can drink in moderation. Stock picture
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

New mothers who are breastfeeding can still enjoy an alcoholic drink - but not during the baby's first month.

Updated advice from the HSE aims to clear up some confusion over whether women who breastfeed should shun alcohol completely.

The guidelines were outlined by Dr Paul Mullane and Dr Mary T O'Mahony of the HSE South at the Royal College of Physicians' summer scientific conference yesterday.

The advice is to avoid alcohol in the first month after birth, as feeding is very frequent at this stage and it takes time to establish a routine.

Women breastfeeding beyond one month should continue to adhere to guidance on low-risk alcohol consumption - less than 11 standard drinks per week. A standard drink is half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.

They are advised to feed the baby or express milk before drinking alcohol.

Two hours are needed on average to metabolise one standard drink.

Meanwhile, international researchers, including scientists at the University of Aberdeen, have warned that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy at any stage.

The international group investigated the biological changes in the brain that drive foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) using complex network theory to analyse brain signals. Their findings are published in the journal 'Chaos'.

Teenagers who were exposed to alcohol while in the womb showed altered brain connections that were consistent with impaired cognitive performance.

FASDs are one of the leading causes of intellectual disability worldwide and are linked to a wide array of neurological issues, including ADHD.

They concluded there is no safe amount or safe stages during pregnancy for drinking.

Irish Independent

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