Introduction: Back in the 1970s, there was not a widespread public perception that low level ingestion of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy resulted in harm to the developing infant.
A study was subsequently published in JAMA in 1984 titled “Maternal Alcohol Consumption and Birth Weight-How Much Drinking During Pregnancy Is Safe?”1. The data that the authors presented seemed to suggest a different conclusion from what the authors proposed.
The authors suggested that low level alcohol ingestion resulted in low birth weight infants, even in nonsmokers.
A direct review of the data in this study suggested that a low level alcohol intake in nonsmokers did not significantly adversely affect infant birth weight.
(This contrasted to low level alcohol ingestion in smokers which appeared to be associated with a possible trend for lower infant birth weight.) A letter was submitted and published in JAMA suggesting a different interpretation of the data.2
1. Mills JL, Graubard BI, Harley EE, et al. Maternal alcohol consumption and birth weight: How much drinking during pregnancy is safe? JAMA 1984:252:1875-1879
2. Roehm E. Letter, Maternal alcohol consumption and birth weight. JAMA 1985:253:3551