By A. Lynn Martin (auth.)
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Extra info for Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Early research indicated that only alcoholic women endanger their children, but subsequent research suggests that an average of only two drinks per day can result in a significant decrease in body weight, and a good weight at birth is an important factor in determining an infant’s survival. ’149 If women were drinking substantial amounts of alcohol in traditional Europe, then evidence of the fetal alcohol syndrome should exist. As it happens, historical demographers have demonstrated the very high rate of infant mortality in traditional Europe, with one in four or even one in two children not surviving until the age of five.
This seems excessive. An analysis of the Florentine catasto of 1427 reveals that 37 per cent of the population was aged fourteen and under,132 so that those who were too poor to drink much and those who were too young to drink much constituted about 50 per cent of the Florentine population. This was probably typical; most towns in traditional Europe had a high proportion of poor and of children in their populations. What follows is pure play. 75-liter bottle of wine a day. The table of annual per capita consumption of wine indicates that 274 liters would be a moderate amount.
Despite the long history of beliefs that alcohol harmed the fetus, the modern description of the problem did not occur until 1973, when two scientists, K. L. Jones and D. W. 148 The more important effects of drinking during pregnancy are (1) a significant decrease in the weight of the fetus, leading to increased and significant perinatal mortality, that is, mortality during the last five months of pregnancy and the first month after birth, (2) mental deficiency among the survivors, resulting in an average IQ of 70, and (3) abnormal physical and especially facial features.
Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe by A. Lynn Martin (auth.)