Major medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have said time and again: Do not drink during pregnancy.
But researchers are still looking into the specifics of when alcohol might have the most detrimental effect.
In the latest study, the likelihood of premature birth increased among women who drank moderately during the first months of pregnancy.
More than 1,200 women in Leeds, United Kingdom, participated in the study. Those who drank more than two units of alcohol – about one pint – twice a week had a doubled risk of premature birth.
“This is a very sensitive issue. We don’t want women who are pregnant now to panic – the individual risk is actually low,” Camilla Nykjaer, one of the researchers at the University of Leeds, told the BBC. “They shouldn’t drink. They should stop drinking if they have been drinking during the pregnancy.”
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service says women shouldn’t drink during pregnancy, but if they do, limit it to two units once or twice a week, and don’t get drunk.
But women in the United States, take note: U.S. health officials say no amount of drinking during pregnancy has been proven safe.