It seems as if the vast majority of you who have issues with this book do so from the standpoint of the author's position on alcohol consumption. I would like to address these people for a moment.
First, I am the sibling of a severely disabled family member, whose condition had nothing to do with alcohol consumption during gestation. I know well the incredible difficulties involved with caring for such an individual.
Second, I have a Masters degree in Nutritional Biochemistry from one of the top Public Health institutions in the US. I have also conducted research on FAS, and so consider myself both relatively familiar with the body of literature on the subject, as well as qualified to interpret the results, and identify the limitations, of this research.
Third, I do not drink alcohol, and my wife does not drink alcohol.
The author of this book did not say that there is no risk to consuming alcohol during pregnancy. She said, that based on her evaluation of some of the literature, she did not perceive there to be excessive risk to consuming "1 to 3" glasses of wine "over the course of the first trimester".
My research has focused specifically on the timing of alcohol exposure during gestation and the likelihood of the development of an FASD phenotype. My work has suggested that, in particular, it is during the first weeks following conception that the fetus is most vulnerable to insult. Furthermore, the timing of this insult is more important than the amount of alcohol consumed to generate the insult. Essentially, the period of highest vulnerability to the fetus is a time when the expecting mother is likely unaware that she is pregnant. Thus, she is likely to not have yet purchased this book. Considering that 50% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, persuading the population to consider the creation of children as an incredible responsibility, and as such requiring appropriate preparation, is considerably more important of an issue than lambasting an author for saying that one glass of wine per month during the first trimester is statistically unlikely to result in egregious harm to the fetus.
That being said, it is unfortunate that the author seems to have reversed the 'risky' pattern of consumption, in that alcohol consumption in the later months should be reduced compared to the earlier months. Neurological development occurs very early during gestation. Alcohol should be abstained from during the first trimester. However, as for the remainder of the pregnancy, there is a trade-off.
If an expectant mother's social support system has relied heavily on a group of people who regularly consume alcohol as part of their socializing, being unable to take part in this socializing puts the mother at an increased risk of isolation, and the development of pre-natal depression. This is an under-recognized condition which can have long-term consequences both for the mother and her baby, including decreased mental capacity. Therefore, if, in order to reduce the risk of depression in later trimesters, the expectant mother decides to participate in 'normal' social activities, in particular the consumption of a glass of wine, there is really very limited evidence to suggest a high risk associated with this behavior. The consumption of a single glass of wine does not meet the criteria for 'moderate' levels of drinking, or even 'mild'.
I realize that this issue is emotionally-charged, but I encourage you to step back for a moment, and think rationally about the context in which this information is presented. It is exactly these type of 'all-or-none' recommendations you are recommending that has led people to seek additional guidance. It is not because these mothers are necessarily looking for data to 'rationalize' their drinking. They simply want an honest assessment of the evidence, presented without a bias or underlying motivating factors. By all means, the best way to truly do that is to have the education necessary to evaluate the primary literature. But that takes years, if not a lifetime. People simply need a way to 'digest' the body of information available, without oversimplification, and without dogmatism.
Feel free to respond to this commentary as you wish.