Researchers found that the new mothers also took an average of an extra day more to recover from the birth in hospital than non-drinkers. And they were less likely to have formed a strong attachment to their child three months later, experts at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen found. They warn that the findings add
Researchers found that the new mothers also took an average of an extra day more to recover from the birth in hospital than non-drinkers.
And they were less likely to have formed a strong attachment to their child three months later, experts at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen found.
They warn that the findings add to research which suggests that children can grow up to have behavioural problems if their mothers drink while pregnant.
None of the women were heavy drinkers, the findings show, taking the equivalent of just a small glass of wine or a pint of beer once a week at the most.
Eilidh Duncan, who led the study, said: “I would like to look at the annual cost to the NHS, as it could be quite significant.
“The women in this study were not drinking at large levels, they were not problem drinkers and our study shows that they still had to stay in hospital one day longer.”
A change to the advice given to expectant mothers last year warned them to abstain entirely from alcohol while pregnant, replacing previous recommendations that small amounts were harmless.
However, experts have warned that many women are still confused about the guidelines and the evidence on the effects of alcohol on their baby.
In total the women who continued to drink while pregnant spent almost four and a half days in hospital after they gave birth compared to an average of three and a half for non-drinkers, even though both groups had the same number of complications during labour.
The drinkers also scored significantly lower on questionnaires designed to assess how well they had bonded with their children.
The study looked at 130 mothers-to-be and followed them from the 20th week of their pregnancy until their child was 12 weeks old.
Mrs Duncan said that one reason that the mothers in the drinking group struggled to bond with their child could be because the alcohol they were exposed to in the womb had left them with behavioural problems.
She added: “It was previously thought ok to have one or two units of alcohol a week and that had changed to complete abstention.
“Although it doesn’t seem to be affecting the infants it does seem to have negative effects for their mothers and there are potential long term consequences for the children as well.”
The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Brighton.