Although women have been told in the past that drinking one small glass or half a glass of wine a day won’t harm their child’s development, a team of researchers in the United States have proven this theory to be untrue.
Resveratrol, which is an ingredient of red wine and is available as a supplement, has been found to lead to developmental abnormalities in the foetal pancreas.
The study was carried out by the Division of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and the Division of Reproductive and Development Science at Oregon Health and Science University in the United States.
Lead researcher Dr Kevin Grove and his co-workers gave resveratrol supplements to obese female macaque monkeys consuming a Western diet every day during their pregnancy. Another group of obese monkeys were not given any supplements.
The results were then compared to lean monkeys, who were fed a low fat healthy diet.
The study showed definitive evidence of pancreatic abnormalities in some of the foetuses.
"This study has direct relevance to human health. Resveratrol is widely used for its recognised health benefits, and is readily available over the counter," Dr Grove told The Express.
"The important message in this study is that women should be very careful about what they consume while pregnant, and they should not take supplements, like Resveratrol, without consulting with their doctors.
"What might be good for the mother may not be good for the baby."
The National Health and Medical Research Council's Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol recommends that not drinking is the safest option for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. It states that: "Maternal alcohol consumption can harm the developing fetus or breastfeeding baby."
In 2011, Dr Colleen O'Leary and Professor Carol Bower reviewed the evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses examining the risk from low and moderate levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.
They found that there was "no strong research evidence of fetal effects from low levels of alcohol exposure. However, harm is well-documented with heavy exposure and moderate levels of exposure, 30–40 g per occasion and no more than 70 g per week, have been demonstrated to increase the risk of child behaviour problems."
The conclusion was that the safest choice for pregnant women is to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.