Step In The Right Direction…But Is It Far Enough?

Pregnant StomachOn February 10th, 2015, the WebMD UK Health News published an article by Tim Locke titled: New advice for mums-to-be says “no alcohol”

In the new recommendations women planning a pregnancy, and those in the first three months are advised to consume no alcohol. This recommendation is certainly a step in the right direction as previous advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said a few glasses of wine a week would be ok.

In Alberta, Canada, we take the stance that alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. We advise that no alcohol is consumed throughout the duration of the pregnancy as well as during the pregnancy planning.

Take a peak at the full article below! What are you thoughts?

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard
10th February 2015 – Women planning a pregnancy, and those in the first three months of a pregnancy, are being advised not to drink any alcohol under new guidance.

Previous advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said a few glasses of wine a week would be OK.

The College now says there is no proven safe amount of alcohol that women can drink during pregnancy, but small amounts of alcohol after the first trimester does not appear to be harmful.

The only way to be certain that the baby is not harmed by alcohol, the guidance says, is not to drink at all during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Alcohol affects babies

During pregnancy, some alcohol can pass through the placenta and could affect the growing baby or foetus. The guidance also says that drinking alcohol around the time of conception and during the first three months of pregnancy may increase the chance of miscarriage.

After the first trimester, women are advised to drink no more than one to two units of alcohol, and not more than once or twice a week. One small glass of wine counts as 1.5 units.

Alcohol can affect the way a baby’s brain develops and the way the baby grows in the womb, which can restrict foetal growth, increase the risk of stillbirth and premature labour.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the more severe fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can lead to children having physical and mental disabilities.

Information should be made available on help and support for women who may be drinking above a safe limit.

Alcohol and conception

In a statement, the chair of the RCOG’s Patient Information Committee, Philippa Marsden says: “For women planning a family, it is advisable not to drink during this time. Either partner drinking heavily can make it more difficult to conceive.

“If you cut down or stop drinking at any point during pregnancy, it can make a difference to your baby. However, in some instances, once the damage has been done, it cannot be reversed. If you have any questions or concerns about alcohol consumption talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor who can offer support and advice.”

Cath Broderick, chair of the RCOG Women’s Network adds: “Women may receive conflicting advice and be unsure about how alcohol is measured. This advice provides information about what is thought to be a safe amount both before and during pregnancy and chimes with NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] antenatal guidance.”


Other expert groups have welcomed the new guidelines in statements.

Dr Simon Newell, consultant neonatologist and vice president for training & assessment at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says: “We know that around 6,000 babies a year in the UK are born with some form of fetal alcohol spectrum and as a consultant neonatologist, I see first-hand the serious harm this can have – it can cause brain damage, learning disabilities and physical problems.

“It is impossible to say what constitutes as a ‘safe’ amount of alcohol a mother can drink as every pregnancy is different, so our advice to mothers is don’t take a chance with your baby’s health and drink no alcohol at all.”

Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says: “The evidence suggests that the cumulative effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes harm to the developing fetus and can have adverse impacts on the new-born. This why the RCM continues to advise women to abstain from drinking alcohol when pregnant or if trying to conceive.

“We also encourage midwives to have a discussion with pregnant women about these consequences in a non-judgemental way and provide them with appropriate and up-to-date information on alcohol in pregnancy.”


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