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Rachel Weisz Controversy: Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant

A few months a go I did a post on alcohol consumption while pregnant.

The facts I found said that there is no safe amount of alcohol for a developing fetus.

Therefore, it was recommended that pregnant women do not drink any alcohol – including beer, wine, wine coolers and hard liquor— throughout their pregnancy and while nursing.

Oscar-winnng actress Rachel Weisz has sparked controversy by saying it is acceptable for pregnant women to drink alcohol.

The 35-year-old, who recently gave birth to her first child, said she thought it was “fine” for expectant mothers to have a glass of wine after the first three months.

British-born Miss Weisz added: “I mean in Europe they drink it”.

Her comments, which were made while she promoted her latest movie The Fountain, were immediately criticised by medical experts who described them as “ill-informed” and “dangerous”.

The Government is currently reviewing guidelines on drinking alcohol when pregnant after experts warned that even very small amounts could result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which can lead to learning difficulties, poor co-ordination and attention deficit disorder.

Current UK guidelines say pregnant women can drink one or two units, the equivalent to one or two small glasses of wine or single measures of spirit, once or twice a week.

In the US and Canada complete abstinence from drinking is advised for expectant mothers.

Last night foetal alcohol syndrome specialist Dr Raja Mukherjee, of St George’s Hospital Medical School in London, said: “If Rachel Weisz has drunk during her pregnancy and the baby is fine then that’s just pure luck. The problem is that you don’t know who is at risk and who is not.

“It doesn’t mean that anyone who has drunk alcohol is going to be affected but because we cannot predict, then it is safer to avoid it.

“There is a risk throughout your whole pregnancy.There is potential harm to the unborn baby’s brain at any point and that is fact.”

Sharon Fleisher, founder of the National Organisation of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, said: “Damage to a fetus can be caused throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy. I think that the comment that she made is dangerous. It is very irresponsible because she is not an expert and she doesn’t know the full effects alcohol can have on an unborn child.

“She is also wrong about Europe because as of October 2007, France are putting warning labels on all stock in the shops.”

She added that for most children the real problems only began when they started school and lagged behind other youngsters of their age.

Miss Weisz, who won an Oscar last year for her role in The Constant Gardener made her comments in an interview in New York to publicise the film, in which she appears with actor Hugh Jackman.

Asked whether she thought a glass of wine was fine she replied: “Personally I do. They say not in the first three months though, but I think that after that it’s fine. I mean in Europe they drink it”.

Rachel and her fiance Darren Aronofsky live in New York together and the actress gave birth to their first son Henry Chance in May.

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Midwives said: “We don’t take the view that women have to abstain from alcohol altogether.

“If women feel they can abstain then that has obviously got to be the least risk.

“But if it is part of your social norm then we don’t feel there is anything wrong with having the odd drink. Every one is different and we as midwives try to ensure that their pregnancy is manageable for them.

“There is no set situation for women. Midwives here have experienced some who drink a lot and their children do not develop Foetal Alcohol Syndrome while others have just the one drink and their child develops it.

“We just want women to accept pregnancy as part of their normal life”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We recommend a guideline of one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week, at any stage of pregnancy. The principal outcome from our scientific tests is that for most, there is no adverse effects for low to moderate pre-natal alcohol consumption. Women should stick to these guidelines even if they are trying for a baby.”

I have issues with some groups saying have a casual drink and others being totally against it. It sends the wrong message to newly pregnant moms who want to do the right thing for their child.

The March of Dimes reports :

When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes swiftly through the placenta to her baby. In the unborn baby’s immature body, alcohol is broken down much more slowly than in an adult’s body. As a result, the alcohol level of the baby’s blood can be even higher and can remain elevated longer than the level in the mother’s blood. This sometimes causes the baby to suffer lifelong damage.

I hope this is one of those times where the star’s comments are out of context.



About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!


  • Rachel only said a glass of wine, not a bottle of vodka. Pregnant women do drink wine on occasion.

    The whole thing is being blown way way way out of proportion.

  • At the end of the article I had said that I hoped that this was one of those times when a stars comments were taken out of context.

    Sometimes on a slow news day media need something to rant about.

    It was a good oppurtunity to post more information on drinking while pregnant though.

  • Give me a brake,and give her a brake!!Pregnant women at some point are not going to be able to leave the house or drive a car or clean a bathroom or eat anything but organic……<i come from a FAMILY OF 9, and have38 nieces and nephews,I have been around baby’s & pregnancy my whole life,with all my kids I would have a(1) glass of
    Champagne every Saturday for the last 3 months,not only are they perfect they are all highly gifted,in school.stop scaring these poor young girls to death the stress they have over a glass of wine is way more damaging in my eyes!

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