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Module 1: Historic Perspectives on Alcohol and Pregnancy

Introduction

A few drinks during pregnancy can't be that bad, right? After all, no one said anything about it until the 1970s. Not true. In the Bible (Judges 13:7, KJV) there is a caution against drinking while pregnant: "Behold thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink." In his writings, the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 to 322 BC), suggested that children of "drunken women" were often "morose and languid".1 In the 17th century, Sir Francis Bacon warned women against drinking alcohol while pregnant. Since then, knowledge about alcohol and pregnancy has increased, leading to preventive measures. In the 18th century, the British government recognized the impact of alcohol on pregnancy outcomes and took steps to reverse dangerous trends.


Pregnant woman holding a beer bottle. Big red X over the bottle indicating alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

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