While some children may not have any developmental problems linked to their mother's drinking during pregnancy, an estimated 40,000 children per year are affected by FASD, a spectrum of disorders that could lead to poor growth, mental retardation, learning disabilities and other problems, according to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
"We know that FASDs are 100 percent preventable if alcohol is not consumed during pregnancy, so why take the risk?" Donaldson said.
Other experts say while they don't recommend that pregnant women drink regularly, an occasional indulgence is perfectly fine.
"I think this study will allow doctors to tell patients that an occasional drink is unlikely to be harmful to the fetus. For many women there are the occasional events (a wedding, an anniversary, etc.) when a single drink (maybe a bit of bubbly) would be very appreciated. I, for one, will say it is OK," Dr. Ian Holzman, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York said in an email.
"Many women will have an alcoholic drink before they realize that they are pregnant, and this might be reassuring news," said Dr. Kevin Ault, an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Emory University School of Medicine.