Experts in paediatrics and pregnancy stated in the journal that women who were planning on having a family are given “conflicting advice” when it comes to alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
A retired paediatrician Mary Mather and a doctoral research fellow in obstetric medicine at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust Kate Wiles believe midwives and other healthcare professionals should advise pregnant women to abstain from alcohol altogether.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can put babies at risk of foetal alcohol syndrome and development and behavioural abnormalities.
According to the Telegraph, the Department of Health in the UK recommends pregnant women avoid drinking alcohol.
However, the government department also says that if women want to drink alcohol during pregnancy, they are advised to have no more than one or two units up to twice a week.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that women should avoid alcohol within the first three months of pregnancy, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
“Pregnant women must know there is no evidence of a threshold level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy below which there can be certainty that exposure is safe,” Mary Mather and Kate Wiles write in the BMJ.
In countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and Australia, their health guidelines recommend pregnant abstain from alcohol throughout their pregnancy.
According to recent figures, the number of women who stopped drinking during pregnancy increased by 48% in comparison to 33% recorded in 2005.
2% of women either continued to drink the same amount they normally would or drink more.