The Canadian House of Commons could have paved the way for the introduction of warning labels on bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks, after government and opposition MP's voted overwhelmingly 217 to 11 in favour of using health warnings.

If the federal government backs the motion, labels would warn women against the effects of alcohol during pregnancy saying: "Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects."

MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis brought forth the motion because of her concerns about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, a manifestation of specific growth, mental and physical birth defects associated with a mother's high levels of alcohol use during pregnancy.

She said in her debate: "We are a lighthouse sending a warning of the dangers that can occur when drinking while pregnant. People who would otherwise not be aware of the link between drinking while pregnant and foetal alcohol syndrome are taking note. It does help and it does make a difference."

This is the first attempt made at labelling legislation for alcoholic drinks in Canada.