Skip to main content
Back to news homepage

RCOG policy briefing: New advice on alcohol consumption levels in pregnancy

News 13 January 2016

The Chief Medical Officers of all four nations of the UK have published (8 January 2016) new guidelines on alcohol consumption.

The new advice for both men and women is not to consume more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

These guidelines come into immediate effect.

Information for members

These new guidelines are in part a result of the findings from new research on the risks of chronic disease and cancers and the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption on heart health.

The evidence suggesting that drinking alcohol has a protective effect against heart disease was found only in a small group of the population (in women aged 55+ consuming no more than five units per week).

Included in the new guidelines is advice on alcohol consumption in pregnancy.

The current position is that the safest option for a woman is to avoid alcohol altogether:

  • If you are planning a pregnancy or
  • If you are pregnant.

View the RCOG’s statement on the guidelines. 

RCOG members should be aware of these new guidelines and counsel women in their care accordingly.

Next steps

The Department of Health has begun a public consultation on the new recommendations on whether these messages are clear and easy to understand. View the consultation document and questions.

The deadline for the consultation is 1 April 2016.

The RCOG will be making a submission. If you have views you would like us to consider in our response, please send these to by 9 March 2016.


For more information about the RCOG’s policy and public affairs activities, please contact us at or +44 20 7772 6446.