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RCOG statement on NICE guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy

News 20 March 2008

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the revised guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy which are in line with the RCOG statement No. 5 Alcohol consumption and the outcomes of pregnancy published in March 2006.

Pregnant women should be informed in antenatal clinics that drinking high levels of alcohol during the first trimester increases the chance of having a miscarriage. Chronic alcohol abuse throughout pregnancy leads to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in babies.

Current scientific opinion points to there being no hard evidence that very small amounts of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are harmful to the mother and baby. At the same time, there is uncertainty on the threshold of safe alcohol consumption during this period for pregnant women. Which is why the RCOG has consistently stated that women should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol when pregnant but there is no evidence that drinking 1 to 2 units once or twice a week is harmful.

If pregnant women are having difficulty keeping to the current advice of drinking no more than 2 units in a week, they should speak directly to their midwives and doctors.