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Alcohol in Pregnancy - How much can I drink?

Can I drink wine when I am pregnant? What impact does alcohol have on the unborn baby?

Alcohol consumed by the mother crosses the placenta to reach the baby easily. The alcohol could affect the development of the baby inside the womb, the baby's health at delivery, and the baby's susceptibility to illness in childhood and adult life.

For a woman who regularly gets drunk during pregnancy, the baby is at risk of having Feta! Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS babies have abnormal facial features (flattened face and lips), and are of low birth weight. In addition, FAS babies have smaller brain size and hence are at risks of neurological developmental problems, hearing loss and poor hand-eye coordination.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) in UK had issued antenatal guidelines about alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

"Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should be advised to avoid drinking alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy if possible because it may be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage."

"If women chose to drink alcohol during pregnancy they should be advised to drink no more than one to 2 UK units once or twice a week ( one unit equals half a pint of ordinary strength lager or beer, or one shot [25ml] of spirits. One small [125ml] glass of wine is equal to 1.5 UK units). Although there is uncertainty regarding a safe level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy, at this low level there is no evidence of harm to the unborn baby. "

"Women should be informed that getting drunk or binge drinking during pregnancy ( defined as more than five standard drinks or 7.5 units on a single occasion) might be harmful to the unborn baby. "