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Can You Have Non-Alcoholic Beer When Pregnant?

One question that continually comes up is whether pregnant women can consume alcohol-free beers (and other non-alcoholic beverages that usually contain alcohol).

Recommendations regarding non-alcoholic beer differ, but most doctors recommend not drinking alcohol at all when pregnant.

Is It Safe to Consume Non-alcoholic Beer During Pregnancy?

Science indicates that most non-alcoholic beers still contain trace levels of alcohol, and consuming alcohol during pregnancy may result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. But, are the trace amounts of alcohol found in non-alcoholic beer a reason for concern?

When it comes to drinking alcohol when pregnant, it is best to err on the side of caution and abstain completely, as no amounts of alcohol are recommended as safe.

It may seem controversial, but there have actually been scientific studies conducted on the impacts that light drinking has on pregnant women. The studies found that drinking a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy – just a few drinks a week – is probably harmless.

Despite this, it is not safe to start recommending alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as what one person considers small amounts of alcohol might actually be too much, or one pint might turn into more once they start drinking.

There is still a lack of research when it comes to drinking non-alcoholic beer and alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, so it is best to simply not drink alcohol when you are pregnant.

What Are the Risks of Drinking Non-alcoholic Beer When Pregnant?

Consuming alcohol while pregnant can affect the fetus and lead to the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Whether this applies to non-alcoholic beer depends on the brand you are consuming, as even 0.0% beers can contain small levels of alcohol.

Alcohol is bad for the fetus – but the problem is that there is no conclusive evidence of how much alcohol is bad for the fetus. That means that even non-alcoholic drinks, like alcohol-free beer or wine, could have an impact on the developing baby.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) can impact the development of the fetus, resulting in slower growth, organ issues, dysmorphic facial features, and neurodevelopmental disorders. FASD occurs when alcohol passes from the mother to the fetus through the umbilical cord.

There are different FASDs, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol-Related Birth Defects, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, and Neurobehavioural Disorder Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure.

Why Do Some Non-alcoholic Beers Contain Alcohol?

When brewing traditional beer, alcohol is produced when the yeast ferments the sugar.

Most alcohol-free beers are made by removing alcohol at a later stage. However, removing the alcohol (through boiling or other processes known as de-alcoholisation) also removes flavour compounds, and therefore some alcohol is retained to ensure the beer still has a delicious taste.

Some non-alcoholic beers are made through limited fermentation, which stops the fermentation process before alcohol is produced. These beers are sweeter as the sugars are not broken down by the yeast but can still contain low levels of alcohol if fermentation is allowed to happen for a short while.

Should You Drink Non-alcoholic Beer When You’re Pregnant?

As you can see from the information shared above, it is best to avoid alcohol intake when pregnant. Because there is so little information available when it comes to the safety of drinking non-alcoholic beers when pregnant, and how they influence the development of FASDs, it is best to simply avoid non-alcoholic beer when pregnant.

Whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the best way to protect your baby from alcohol-related disorders is to simply abstain from alcoholic beverages, including non-alcoholic beers.


Can I drink non-alcoholic beer while breastfeeding?

The consensus on this topic is mixed, as some doctors recommend absolutely no alcohol (even alcohol-free beers) when breastfeeding, while others see no harm.

There has not been a lot of research done on the impact of alcohol on breastfed infants. However, one study did not find any massive concerns for alcohol consumption while breastfeeding, suggesting that breastfeeding women follow “should simply follow standard recommendations on alcohol consumption.”

Although alcohol can find its way into the breastmilk, the little bit of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer will be metabolised by the mother. These small amounts of alcohol can still enter the breastmilk, but babies are able to metabolise alcohol (just slower than adults), and therefore these minute amounts of alcohol in the breastmilk are unlikely to affect the baby.

study that specifically looked at the impact of non-alcoholic beers on lactating women determined that these beers are “likely innocuous for the breastfed infant”. The only concern when it comes to drinking non-alcoholic beers is that the mother may produce less milk.

Of course, if you are uncertain, it is best to completely avoid any trace amounts of alcohol when breastfeeding.

Are hops safe during pregnancy?

There are not enough studies to confirm whether hops are safe for pregnant women. However, WebMD recommends avoiding the use of hops when pregnant or breastfeeding.

Hops are also included in a “list of herbs to avoid when pregnant” as they could cause uterine contraction.

Can pregnant women drink 0.5% beer?

As there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy because of a lack of reliable data, it is best if pregnant women abstain from consuming 0.5% beer. Often times the labels are not accurate, and the levels of alcohol in non-alcoholic beers can be higher than indicated.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you decide to drink non-alcoholic beer during pregnancy is completely up to you.

There is no concrete evidence that non-alcoholic beer is harmful to the fetus, however, some of these beers that are marketed as non-alcoholic still have trace amounts of alcohol.

As no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy due to the occurrence of FASDs, it is up to the mother, and the guidance of her doctor, to determine whether non-alcoholic beverages should be consumed.

If you want to have peace of mind, it is best to abstain from all beers while pregnant or breastfeeding.

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