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UK: Light drinking during pregnancy is safe - study

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Light drinking during pregnancy does not raise the risk of behavioural or mental problems in children, new research suggests.

Drinking up to two units of alcohol per week does not appear to carry risks for unborn children, researchers at University College London (UCL) said today (31 October).

Their findings are based on data in the UK Millenium Cohort Study, which holds information on the mental abilities of 12,495 three year-old children and details their mothers' drinking habits during pregnancy.

Last year, England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, advised pregnant women to avoid alcohol completely. Official advice from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), published in March, only recommends avoiding alcohol for the first three months of pregnancy.

Dr Yvonne Kelly, lead researcher in UCL study, said: "The link between heavy drinking during pregnancy and consequent poor behavioural and cognitive outcomes in children is well established. However, very few studies have considered whether light drinking in pregnancy is a risk for behavioural and cognitive problems in children."

In some cases, Kelly said, boys born to mothers who drank lightly during pregnancy were less likely to suffer from hyperactivity.

She added that the study raised questions about government advice, and noted that there is "inconsistency in policy around this issue".

Diageo, maker of Guinness and Smirnoff, this year asked the government to introduce mandatory warning labels on drinks for pregnant women. The UK drinks industry has largely agreed to include warnings on products.

 


Sectors: Beer & cider, Spirits, Wine

Companies: Diageo, Guinness, Smirnoff

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