Pregnant women told to avoid alcohol

26 March, 2008

Women have been advised not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy, despite no evidence that small amounts are harmful.

Women have been advised not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy, despite no new evidence that small amounts are harmful.

Revised guidance issued today by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, recommends that women avoid drinking alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy and if they choose to drink after that time, it should be no more than one or two units once or twice a week.

Although the latest guidelines say there is no new evidence that low levels of alcohol can harm unborn babies, those in draft guidance issued last year said women could drink a small glass of wine daily after the first trimester – advice which conflicted with that from the Department of Health who said women should abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association said the different guidelines could be seen as "confusing".

"It is best if policy guidance is evidence-based and it is probably not surprising if people are confused given the range of different advice given," a spokesman said.

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