For Erica Rothenstein, breastfeeding her nine-month-old daughter Savannah is a priority, so she limits her alcohol intake.
"I drink some wine now and then, [but] I would not go out and have three, four, five drinks and then feed my baby," Rothenstein told CBS News.
New research suggests that she has the right idea. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the exposure of infant alcohol by mother's milk may affect their thinking and thinking abilities as they develop into early childhood, though the association was small and seemed to decline as the children did got older.
"There may be cognitive deficits in children aged 6 to 7 years, if the mother consumes alcohol during breastfeeding," Dr. Elissa Rubin, Medical Director of Happy and Healthy Pediatrics of Mineola, New York, said. However, the effect can not be permanent. "They do not see the same results at ages 10 to 11" when the children were retested, said Rubin, who was not involved in the study.
Researchers in Australia collected data on more than 5,000 infants from 2004 onwards for the study. The children were examined every two years until the age of 11 years.
The mothers were interviewed during pregnancy and lactation about their alcohol consumption and cigarette habits. At each follow-up, the children were tested for vocabulary, nonverbal thinking and cognitive processing.
The results showed that children's test scores were lowest in mothers who drank the most. While the club was small, the researchers say it could be meaningful for mothers who drink alcohol or drink alcohol regularly.
The study found that smoking during breastfeeding does not alter cognitive outcomes, but paediatricians say it is still a good idea to avoid it
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "no alcohol use is safest option for lactating mothers ". However, the CDC notes that moderate drinking of lactating mothers – up to a standard drink per day – is not known to be harmful to a child, especially if the mother waits at least two hours after drinking before breastfeeding. More alcohol than this can be detrimental to your baby's development, growth and sleep.
Rubin says she tells new mothers an occasional glass of wine is ok as long as they drink a lot of water and eat a full meal. 19659002] "If she feels any effects of the alcohol in her system, she should not breastfeed," she said. "She should pump this milk and throw it away, because she is not safe for the baby."
Nancy Hurst, PhD, a trained nurse and director of women support services at the Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, agreed. If you drink a glass of wine or a beer, it should reappear a few hours before baby feeding, as you know "Feeding frequency is unpredictable in the first few weeks and that's difficult to plan," she told CBS News via email. "When they get bigger, it's a little easier to plan in. Again we mention a drink, not several."
Hurst, who was not involved in the research, said the current study would not change this recommendation.  "There are so many variables that affect the development of an infant / child," she said.
The study is limited to several important ways, including observation, ie there is no way to know if it was actually the alcohol exposure that led to the lower observed cognitive test scores. In addition, the frequency and amount of milk consumed by infants was not recorded, nor was the time of mother's consumption of alcohol.
The authors of the study say more research is needed to elucidate the link between breastfeeding use and cognitive development in babies
As for Rothenstein, she said that the benefits of breastfeeding for her baby are worth the sacrifice ,
"It's liquid gold, so I do not really want to throw it away, so I'm really aware of what I put into my body," she said.