The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has announced that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
Previous recommendations said that a couple glasses or wine per week would not harm a pregnancy but this new announcement states that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe.
The new health guidelines now puts the UK in line with US health recommendations and recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Many doctors and alcohol awareness campaigners have also said for some time that drinking any alcohol while pregnant is a risky behaviour.
The RCOG said the most dangerous time for women to drink is around conception and during the first three months of pregnancy. This is the time when the foetus is going through some of the most important and easily disrupted development. Any alcohol could be transferred to the baby and disrupt its growth. This could cause developmental problems, miscarriage or other medical problems for the baby.
Alcohol can also cause problems with conception. Women who drink even small amounts find it harder to conceive and doctors are not sure why. It seems the more women drink while trying to become pregnant, the harder it becomes to conceive.
Men who drink will also find it harder to get their partner pregnant. Too much alcohol can lower testosterone levels and sperm quality. It also reduces the amount of sperm produced. Alcohol even lowers libido and may cause impotence.
This means it is important for both men and women to monitor their drinking habits while pregnant. Philippa Marsden of the RCOG said: "For women planning a family, it is advisable not to drink during this time. Either partner drinking heavily can make it more difficult to conceive. During early pregnancy, the safest approach is to abstain from alcohol and after the first trimester keep within the recommended amounts if you do decide to have an alcohol drink. The same applies for women who decide to breastfeed.”
It is important to remember that while drinking may not always affect a babies health, some of the problems it can cause are irreversible. This means anyone who wants to ensure they have the best chances of a healthy baby will abstain from drinking.
If you would like to learn more about alcohol abuse you can check out the Life Works Alcohol Knowledge Centre. If you are struggling with an alcohol problem you can check out our alcohol addiction symptoms page or contact us today.