Women who consume alcohol may need to reconsider when planning a pregnancy or when one is expecting a possible pregnancy as a new study showed that this practice increases the risk of a miscarriage.

The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), analysed 5,353 women and looked at the timing, type of alcohol used, and the amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy. They evaluated how these factors affect the risk of a miscarriage of a pregnant woman before 20 weeks of gestation.

The participants were either planning a pregnancy or were already in the early stages of their pregnancy. They came from different areas in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The data that researchers used were derived from the participants through an interview, particularly about their alcohol consumption during the first trimester.

Haf of the women who participated in the study admitted to alcohol use during the first few weeks of their pregnancy, even during conception. Many women changed their alcohol usage after they found out that they were pregnant.

The study found, however, that the miscarriage risk was not dependent on the type of alcohol that was consumed. The risk still accrued even if the woman had no binge drinking episodes or had one. It was also not dependent on whether the mother only had less than a drink in a week or more than four drinks. Basically, the moment that a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, the risk already starts.

The researchers noted that the average gestational age where women stopped using alcohol was 29 days. They found that around 41 percent of women stopped consuming alcohol within three days after they had a positive result from a pregnancy test. However, there were women who chose to stop drinking near the date of their missed period. They were the ones who developed a higher risk for miscarriage, placed by researchers at 37 percent.

The statistics derived were appalling. Out of six recognised pregnancies, one ends in miscarriage. This then leads to more issues including great emotional loss.

Dr Katherine Hartmann, the principal investigator of the study and VUMC's vice president for Research Integration, revealed that the study thwarts previous beliefs that "modest levels of consumption" were regarded as safe despite already existing medical advice against consumption during conception and pregnancy.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy
A study by a team of scientists from King's College London has found that red wine drinkers had a greater diversity of bacteria in their digestive tracts, a marker of gastrointestinal health, compared to those who consumed other forms of alcohol Photo: AFP / GEORGES GOBET

Hartmann highlighted that their findings on miscarriage risk and alcohol consumption are alarming. There is simply no "safe amount" when it comes to pregnancy loss.