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Is it all right for women to drink small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy? No

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39356.489340.AD (Published 25 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:857
  1. Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities,
  2. Nicky Jayesinghe, deputy head of science,
  3. George Roycroft, senior policy executive
  1. British Medical Association, London WC1H
  1. Correspondence to: V Nathanson

    The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence draft guidance on drinking during pregnancy has added to confusion about safety. Pat O'Brien believes that telling women to abstain is overly paternalistic on current evidence, but Vivienne Nathanson and colleagues argue that this is the safest message

    The latest government advice in England says that pregnant women and women trying to conceive should avoid alcohol. A new BMA report, Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, agrees, recommending that abstinence is the only safe policy for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.1 This view is shared by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists2 and the World Health Organization.3 In the United States, the surgeon general recommends that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should abstain from consuming alcohol.4

    Damage from alcohol

    Alcohol can adversely affect the reproductive process in several ways, including infertility, miscarriage, preterm deliveries, stillbirth, and low birthweight babies.5 6 7 Alcohol is …

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