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Dr Sarah Temple
A family doctor with more than 20 years experience working with children in both General Practice and Mental Health Services. Trained to run Emotion Coaching Parenting Courses. She has a special interest in the link between child and parental wellbeing.
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Pregnancy health

Is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy?

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) used to say it was acceptable for pregnant women to drink a couple of glasses of wine (or equivalent) a week. These guidelines have since been revised and are discussed in this article.
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In Short
RCOG and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines state that there is no known safe level of alcohol whilst pregnant. Total abstinence is the only way to be sure that your developing baby is unharmed.

Is alcohol safe in moderation?

Drinking alcohol may affect an unborn baby as some alcohol will pass through the placenta. Alcohol may increase the chance of miscarriage and cause other foetal damage. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) used to say that it was acceptable to drink a couple of glasses of wine (or an equivalent number of units) per week. However, the RCOG has revised this advice and in February 2015 made an announcement that there is no proven amount of alcohol that is safe for the developing foetus. This advice is in line with previous National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations, which recommends no alcohol, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy. Abstinence or avoiding alcohol is the only way to be certain that your developing baby or foetus is not harmed.

I drank alcohol before I realised I was pregnant – what should I do?

Pregnant women often worry that they have drunk alcohol before they knew they were pregnant. Luckily pregnancy tests today give women a positive test very early in the pregnancy. If you are concerned talk to your doctor or midwife and don’t be embarrassed – this is a question they get asked on a daily basis by newly pregnant women.

What is foetal alcohol spectrum disorder?

This is an umbrella term used to describe a range of effects – physical, mental, behavioural – that can occur in a baby whose mother drank heavily during pregnancy. These disorders can have a lifelong impact on a child’s development and may even affect a child’s facial features in incidences of high levels of alcohol intake.

Group of partying girls clinking flutes with sparkling wine

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.