One in three women admit binge drinking in pregnancy: Experts call new guidelines advising no-alcohol following findings

  • Researchers found 33 per cent of British women admitted to bingeing
  • This meant they were drinking two-thirds of a bottle of wine in a sitting
  • Experts call for guidelines to say no alcohol is consumed while pregnant

A third of British women risk doing severe harm to their unborn babies by binge drinking during pregnancy, a study has revealed.

Experts called for new guidelines to be drawn up advising women to drink no alcohol at all while pregnant, as it emerged that many are ignoring current advice.

Researchers at Cambridge University found that 33 per cent of British women admitted to bingeing – drinking the equivalent of two-thirds of a bottle of wine in a single sitting – at least once during their pregnancy.

They also found that the vast majority – 75 per cent – had drunk at least some alcohol at some point while pregnant.

The findings, published in medical journal BMJ Open, add fuel to an escalating row about the confusing advice offered to pregnant women. Experts in recent weeks have fiercely criticised the conflicting guidelines issued by Britain’s different health bodies, which say mothers can drink at some points of pregnancy but not others. Instead, doctors say, the advice should be replaced with a single message: do not drink while pregnant.

However, some charities say that many women drink before they know that they are pregnant, and later become unnecessarily terrified that they may have harmed their babies.

16FF6920000005DC-0-image-a-52_1436224833325Health professionals are nevertheless clear that women should not drink more than a couple of drinks at a time at any stage of pregnancy, and certainly should not get drunk.

More than 6,000 babies a year are born in the UK with some form of damage caused by their mother’s drinking. Those who drink heavily are putting their unborn baby at risk of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affects physical and mental development. The Cambridge team analysed data from 18,000 women in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.

They found that 75 per cent of women in Britain had drunk alcohol at some point during pregnancy, compared to 82 per cent in Ireland, 56 per cent in New Zealand and 40 per cent in Australia. Some 33 per cent of British women admitted to bingeing – defined as six units, or three large glasses of wine, at a time – compared to 59 per cent of Irish women, 10 per cent of Australians and 9 per cent of New Zealanders.

The researchers called for a simplified code in which women are advised not to drink at all while pregnant. ‘Since most women who consume alcohol do so at lower levels where the offspring growth and development effects are less well understood, the widespread consumption of even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy is a significant public health concern,’ they added.

Last month, Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green, president elect of the British Medical Association, criticised the ‘contradictory and inconsistent’ advice given to women, and said: ‘It has to be concluded that there is no “safe” limit for alcohol consumption during pregnancy.’

Currently the Government warns that all pregnant women should avoid alcohol, but says that if they do drink, they should ‘stick to one or two units once or twice a week’.

Meanwhile the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says that women should abstain from all alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy, after which point there is no evidence that drinking under three units twice a week will do any harm.

Responding to the Cambridge study, Clare Murphy, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, called for reassurance for women, adding: ‘The majority of women in the UK are drinking well within the existing recommendations in the second trimester.’

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3151649/One-three-women-admit-binge-drinking-pregnancy-Experts-call-new-guidelines-advising-no-alcohol-following-findings.html#ixzz3fJTP93Z2
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