Health Buzz: Is Light Drinking During Pregnancy Safe?

How to lower your breast cancer risk; family-based therapy: an eating-disorder treatment that works.

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Study: Pregnant Women's Light Drinking Doesn't Harm Baby

Pregnant women have long been warned to avoid alcohol, but new research suggests having one or two drinks a week doesn't raise the risk of developmental problems in children. Babies born to light drinkers—or those who had a glass of wine, 1.7 ounces of spirits, or about 16 ounces of beer a week—had no added risk of emotional or behavioral problems, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. In fact, boys whose mothers were light drinkers scored higher on cognitive tests than those whose mothers abstained. The study authors say this doesn't mean pregnant women should begin drinking, and the American Pregnancy Association maintains that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. "There is a risk that if pregnant women take this research as a green light to drink a small amount, they could become complacent, drink more than they think they are and inadvertently cause harm to their unborn child," Chris Sorek, the chief executive of alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware, told BBC News. Researchers tracked the health of more than 11,000 children, asking their mothers about drinking habits during pregnancy, and then following up on their behavior and cognitive abilities at ages 3 and 5. Though light drinking led to no harmful consequences, children whose mothers imbibed at least seven drinks a week—or more than six at one time—were more likely to be hyperactive and show signs of developmental disorders.

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  • How to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

    Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for American women, writes AOL Health's Kerci Marcello Stroud. An estimated 211,000 women contract the disease every year. While you can't prevent breast cancer, you can significantly reduce your risk and improve your overall health by making the following lifestyle changes.

    First, slim down. Being overweight puts you at an increased risk for developing breast cancer, especially if you have gone through menopause or previously had the disease. Extra fat cells produce extra estrogen, and exposure to additional estrogen ups your risk. Also consider drinking fewer cocktails. Moderation is key when you belly up to the bar. Studies show that consuming alcohol ups your risk of developing breast cancer, in addition to other types of cancers. The more you drink, the more your risk increases. And reduce your exposure to estrogen; the presence of extra estrogen in your body can increase your risk for developing breast cancer. Unwanted sources of estrogen include excess pounds, alcohol, and red meat. Hormone replacement therapy can also be a danger for women who have already had breast cancer. [Read more: How to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk.]

    • Cancer Prevention: Rethink Your Diet as Well as Your Smoking
    • Weight Gain Ups Breast Cancer Risk: 7 Ways to Avoid the Bulge
    • Family-Based Therapy: An Eating-Disorder Treatment That Works

      Harriet Brown once made a near science of packing the most calories possible into everything her daughter ate. A Häagen-Dazs coffee ice-cream milkshake made the way Kitty had always loved it crammed 690 calories into one small glass. That it took two hours of coaxing, pleading, and cajoling to make Kitty swallow it didn't matter. Long after the shake warmed to room temperature, Brown sat with Kitty, her voice soothing and straw in hand, until sip by sip, tear by tear, the milkshake was gone. Her anorexic daughter's life depended on it. She had all but stopped eating and had dropped to 71 pounds, more than 25 pounds below her healthy weight.

      Brown, author of Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle With Anorexia, and her husband nursed their 14-year-old daughter back to physical and emotional health, relying on an unconventional method that has been gaining traction. Named for the London hospital where it was devised in the 1980s specifically to treat children with eating disorders, "the Maudsley approach"—also called family-based therapy­—emphasizes recovery over cause and care provided by parents, not by doctors. The first priority in the Maudsley program is to feed the child. Examining the issues behind the child's disorder can wait, writes U.S. News's Hanna Dubansky.