In fact, the study shows that women who do not drink at all can actually take longer to become pregnant than those women who consume an average of between a half and 14 alcoholic drinks a week.
The study of nearly 40,000 women in Denmark is large enough to offer reassuring evidence which contradicts the findings of previous, smaller studies suggesting that even low levels of alcohol intake are associated with longer waiting times to pregnancy. In women who had never given birth before, neither moderate nor high alcohol intake was related to a longer waiting time to pregnancy.
However Mette Juhl, the Danish researcher who headed the study, sounded a cautionary note: Our research does not mean that consuming alcohol is better for fertility than not drinking alcohol at all. It is known from other studies that non-drinkers differ from moderate drinkers in many other aspects; for instance they may have a weaker constitution or other health problems which can influence fertility, directly or indirectly, she said.
Ms Juhl and her colleagues, from centres in Copenhagen and Aarhus, did find that women who had given birth before and who consumed more than the Danish recommended maximum weekly intake of 14 alcoholic drinks did have to wait longer to get pregnant. However, the evidence from the study was not strong for this as there were few women in this group. Older women and women who smoked or who were over-weight also had to wait longer to become pregnant. Non-drinking, over-weight women had to wait the longest of all. These findings support the evidence of previous studies.
The study was carried out within the Danish National Birth Cohort, a nationwide stud
Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology