Alcohol in Pregnancy


There is no European or worldwide agreement as to what constitutes a safe level of alcohol consumption before or during pregnancy. The discourse as to whether thousands of mothers are putting their babies at risk of permanent brain damage by drinking more then the recommended alcohol intake, recommended by   their countries is   unending. America, Canada, New Zealand, Austrailia, Holland, Ireland and more recently France, among others, recommend that a woman, who is pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, should not drink alcohol at all. (ICAP. 2006)
The advise given to woman who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant in the United Kingdom is that “ women who are pregnant or at any stage of pregnancy, should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol more than once or twice a week, and should avoid episodes of intoxication”
(ICAP 2006)

This essay will look at the advice in the literature available as to whether a moderate intake of alcohol during pregnancy poses a risk to both the woman and the child. It will compare the research findings of the risks associated with moderate intake, versus heavy drinking. It will also look at the methods used to ascertain how much alcohol women are drinking, and if the tests currently in use are effective.


In 1973 FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) was recorded as a newly discovered birth defect, by Drs. Jones and Smith in Seattle U.S.A. (redefined by the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Study group 1980). FAS is characterised by a pattern of facial anomalies such as mid-face hypoplasia, thin upper lip, smooth filtrum, CNS abnormalities and growth restriction, affecting both gestation length and birth weight. ‘Partial fetal abnormalities and alcohol neurodevelopmental disorders are also attributed in some extent to alcohol abuse by the mother during pregnancy’ Hannigan J and Randall A (2000)

Ernst Abel argues in his 1998 book ‘Fetal Alcohol Abuse Syndrome’ That FAS should be redefined and...