Public Health Wales said drinking too much while expecting a baby can cause foetal alcohol syndrome, which can leave children with impaired IQ and low birth weight, leading to severe learning difficulties and addiction problems in adulthood.
Despite this warning, there is still a lack of clear guidance as to how much alcohol constitutes too much, leaving many women unsure whether or not to trust or follow Government advice.
In the UK, if pregnant women choose to drink, they are advised not to consume more than two units of alcohol a week
This is supported by research carried out by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who say there’s no evidence a couple of units once or twice a week will harm the baby.
However, mothers-to-be were warned by researchers at Oxford and Bristol Universities, that even drinking just one or two glasses of wine a week during pregnancy could have a negative impact on their child’s IQ.
In a report, Public Health Wales (PHW) said such “constant changes to advice in relation to alcohol are unhelpful (and cause) confusion”.
Karen Jewell, consultant midwife in public health agrees with this view. “Most midwives would say to stop (drinking) completely”, she explains. “But (the Government) concedes that if women do choose to drink, they should limit consumption to no more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week. I think (this) advice softens the message as perhaps people think there’s not anything really wrong with drinking because they don’t completely rule it out.”
Rates of alcohol consumption in pregnancy continue to be monitored every six months by maternity services performance boards.