New study shows global impact of drinking alcohol in pregnancy

A new study has shown that nearly 10 percent of women worldwide drink alcohol in pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause long-term damage to your baby.

Pregnancy news 17/01/16

A new report has revealed the number of women globally that drink alcohol in pregnancy. The UK and Ireland were among the top five countries with the highest alcohol use in pregnancy, alongside Russia, Denmark and Belarus. Researchers also looked at how many of the women who drink in pregnancy develop  fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS.) The study estimates that one in 67 women who drink alcohol during pregnancy will develop this condition and cause serious harm to their baby.

What is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)?

It's safest to avoid drinking all alcohol in pregnancy because it can cause your baby to long-term harm. FAS can be caused by drinking alcohol in pregnancy, the more you drink, the higher the risk to your baby.

Children with FAS can have:

  • Restricted growth
  • Facial abnormalities
  • Heart defects
  • Learning and behaviour disorders

Experts are still unsure exactly how much alcohol is safe for you to have while pregnant, which is why avoiding all alcohol during pregnancy is the safest approach.

Our midwife Amina explains

‘Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up having fun or socialising with friends, but it’s important to make some lifestyle changes to help keep your baby healthy. Alcohol is one of the things that you should give up because it can harm your growing baby. When you drink, alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby. This can seriously affect your baby’s development and cause them long-term damage. Drinking alcohol, especially in the first three months of pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birth weight. If you need help to stop drinking then it’s important to talk to your midwife, we are here to support you and will not judge you.’

Getting support with alcohol

If you have difficulty giving up alcohol, talk to your midwife or doctor. They will not judge you and will want to support you.

  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, call this free helpline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am - 8pm, weekends 11am - 4pm)
  • Addaction is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its "12-step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.

Find out more about alcohol and pregnancy here

See our tips for an alcohol-free pregnancy here

More on drinking alcohol in pregnancy

  • Two women laughing.

    Tips for an alcohol-free pregnancy

    Avoiding alcohol may be easy if, like lots of women, you go off the taste early in your pregnancy. But for some others, it can be a challenge.

  • Pregnant woman looking at wine in supermarket.

    Drinking alcohol in pregnancy

    You don't have to stop having fun now you're pregnant - but there are a few things you'll have to give up. Alcohol is one of these things, because it can damage your growing baby.

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