Alcohol use during pregnancy now is believed generally to be a serious risk to the health of the fetus. As a result, women of childbearing age are urged to avoid, if not to eliminate, alcoholic beverages from their diet. This increasingly common view states that, because there is no known safe threshold for alcohol use, abstinence is the safest road to travel. Clearly, this important recommendation, symbolized by the labeling of alcoholic beverages as dangerous during pregnancy, should be based upon the best available scientific data. The report that women metabolize alcohol differently than men and that a smaller amount (compared with men) produces a higher blood level only emphasizes the need to quantify the risk of drinking during pregnancy.1 Scientific information is needed to make the best possible clinical, public health, and public policy decisions. This paper reviews what is known about the risk of alcohol for the well nourished woman who drinks two or less alcoholic beverages (drinks) per day while pregnant. Our conclusion is that there is no measurable or documented risk from this level of drinking during pregnancy. Therefore, by urging well nourished pregnant women to abstain from alcoholic beverages, we may be turning our attention away from negative health behaviors of far greater danger than consuming a glass of wine or its alcoholic equivalent.

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