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J FAS Int 2005;3:e8 - March 2005
Setting the Record Straight on Drinking in Pregnancy - A Letter to the Editor of the National Post

Gideon Koren

In an article in the National Post ("Alcohol: the new labeling frontier"), Terence Corcoran states that "having a few drinks a week while pregnant is not a health risk." His statement is incorrect and certainly not representative of Motherisk findings and counseling. Nor is it supported by our paper published in the Journal of FAS International as quoted by Mr. Corcoran in which my colleagues and I present a review of the evidence concerning both the pros and cons of alcohol labeling.

The point we make in our paper is that there is no evidence that the risks of mild and inadvertent exposure in early pregnancy are the same as (or can be "extrapolated" from) the risk associated with heavy drinking during pregnancy.

There are no easy answers in the difficult study and often devastating reality of fetal exposure to alcohol. A woman who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid alcohol consumption. And that is precisely what Motherisk tells women, healthcare providers and all others with regard to the use of alcohol during pregnancy.

Gideon Koren, MD, FRCPC
Director, Motherisk Program
The Hospital for Sick Children
Professor, The University of Toronto

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