“Caffeine in moderation [while pregnant] is fine,” claims author Emily Oster, who challenges well-known pregnancy beliefs in her new book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong -and What You Really Need to Know.
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Combining her experience as Chicago economist with statistics, Oster examined several hundred pregnancy studies to uncover the truth behind pregnancy wisdom rules, of which include:
Rule One: Occasional adult beverages are off limits
Rule number two: Pregnant women should cut out their morning cup of Joe
Rule number three: Working in your yard could harm your baby
Her conclusions? Caffeine and alcohol are fine if not in excess, and working in your garden could harm your little one.
“I found that evidence overwhelmingly suggested having an occasional drink, even maybe a glass of wine a day, is not dangerous,” Oster said. When it comes to coffee, there comes another pregnancy wisdom fact to be challenged: the author thinks pregnant women should have between two to four cups a day – “depending on how cautious you want to be,” she adds.
And doing gardening could have a detrimental effect on your pregnancy, Oster concludes, because it could raise your unborn baby’s risk of toxoplasmosis – a fact backed by studies and experts for years now.
Toxoplasmosis is as frightening as it sounds; it typically has little effect on a fully grown adult with a strong immune system, but the parasites from the illness are harmful enough to cause an infection in your placenta and little one, leading to possible birth defects. This risk is raised as you progress with your pregnancy, so surrender those gardening gloves for the time being and find new ways to occupy yourself!
What the medical experts say about Oster’s findings
Oster, who has no medical experience, has raised something of a furor amongst experts and obstetricians, in particular her findings on alcohol.
“There is no amount of alcohol in pregnancies that should be considered safe,” asserts Dr. Moore in an ABC News Report. The president of the Sapphire Women’s Health Group adds that medically speaking, “anything the mother ingests goes through the placenta and the blood stream to the foetus.”
Analysing data on pregnancy wisdom using statistics alone, such as in Oster’s new book, may not be adequate to make conclusive statements – particularly in the medical field, where facts are drawn based on extensive studies.
“It’s very important for people to understand there’s a lot more to practicing medicine than crunching numbers,” senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton points out to ABC News. “What are the risks are doing something [and] not doing something?”
At the end of the day, however, the choice is the mother’s to make.
As the author herself puts it: “It’s very important for women to take their pregnancy into their own hands and make decisions for themselves.”
Emily Oster’s book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong -and What You Really Need to Know, will be launched on August 20 in the USA.
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