The 2.4-million-strong ‘AITA’ subreddit is a place for weird stories where people ask whether or not they were being jerks. And it proves that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction. One post that got redditors’ and the media’s attention involved a server at a restaurant, an allegedly pregnant woman, and deception.

The server secretly served the woman ‘virgin’ (aka non-alcoholic) cocktails but got found out and suffered the consequences. Meanwhile, the ‘AITA’ crowd overwhelmingly called the Reddit user a jerk for what they did. However, we’d love to know what you think of the situation, dear Pandas. Have a read and let us know if what the author of the story did was justified or not. What would you have done in this situation?

We wanted to get more context about alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so we reached out to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. A BPAS spokesperson told Bored Panda that “there is no compelling evidence of harm at lower levels of alcohol consumption. General precautionary advice to abstain is not based on evidence of harm caused by consumption, but rather, on the inability to rule out the risk.” Read on for more of their insights.

Image credits: Ruth Hartnup (not the actual photo)

Image credits: YouGottaStopThat

“While the available evidence points to a causal relationship between extremely high levels of drinking and harm, this evidence is predicated on an inability to rule out potential confounders (e.g. nutrition, other substance use, more general socio-economic factors) which could be at play. However, as the British Medical Association (BMA) notes, ‘Only four to five percent of children born to women who consumed large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are affected by the full syndrome presentation,'” a BPAS representative told Bored Panda.

They highlighted that women are “entitled to make their own decisions regarding alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and the majority of women do abstain.”

The spokesperson continued: “Pregnant women ‘regulate’ their own consumption during pregnancy. Data shows that only a very small minority (2.9 percent) of women drinking more than one unit of alcohol per week during pregnancy.”

According to the BPAS spokesperson, the risks from consuming small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy might be overstated. “At BPAS, we see women who are so concerned about their alcohol consumption—often before they even realized they were pregnant—that they are considering ending an otherwise wanted pregnancy. The majority of pregnancies in the UK are not formally planned, and it may be several weeks before a woman suspects she is pregnant,” they said.

“Alcohol is enjoyed by many women of reproductive age and inevitably this means significant numbers of women will have drunk fairly heavily before finding out they were pregnant. These women need reassurance and accurate information,” the spokesperson pointed out.

“Within the UK, there is guidance directed to (potentially) pregnant women concerning alcohol consumption. The UK Chief Medical Officer’s ‘Low Risk Drinking Guidelines’ (2016) recommends ‘the safest level of alcohol consumption is no consumption at all.’ This recommendation was not given in light of any emerging evidence of harm, but rather due to the notion that women needed ‘simplicity’ in messaging. It adopts a purely precautionary stance (‘Why risk it?’), which is not reflective of the paucity of evidence regarding low-level consumption and harm.”

Most redditors thought that the server was in the wrong and explained exactly why they thought so

The redditors who branded the original poster a jerk had a lot of different arguments why the server might have been in the wrong. For instance, they had no surefire way of knowing that the woman was, in fact, pregnant.

What’s more, some pointed out that non-alcoholic beverages can be cheaper than alcoholic ones in some places. So the bit of trickery the server did could be interpreted as stealing. However, keep in mind that the cost of virgin and ‘real’ drinks doesn’t differ at all in some restaurants, so this argument is on thin ice. We simply don’t have enough info about this.

Overall, most redditors sided with the ideals of free will and non-intervention: you don’t mess with somebody else’s food without their knowledge, even if you have good intentions. There were those who jumped to the OP’s defense, though, and praised them for following through with their principles even if there was deception involved.

According to the CDC, mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (or FASDs) in their children.

“These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning,” the CDC explains. “There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she’s pregnant. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer.”

Meanwhile, the NHS points out that the Chief Medical Officers for the United Kingdom recommend that pregnant women don’t drink alcohol to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

“Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.”