Advice on how much women should drink during pregnancy is confusing according to doctors, who have called on government to take more action to address the devastating consequences of alcohol use in pregnancy.
The move came at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) where delegates shared concerns that children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome – the mental and physical problems that occur due to drinking during pregnancy - are being failed by the lack of a clear referral pathway for diagnosis, management and support.
The BMA’s moved has been backed locally by Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS). The organisation’s Service Manager Jim Bett commented: “The message is quite clear to all expectant mothers, that you should refrain from alcohol during pregnancy for the sake of your child.”
And he encouraged anyone experiencing problems to contact FASS.
BMA President Elect and former Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green said advice to expectant mothers in the UK was “inconsistent, contradictory and confusing” and accused politicians of denying the scale and importance of the problem.
The BMA called for better labelling on alcohol about the risks of drinking during pregnancy and for further work to raise the public awareness of the risks of alcohol in pregnancy.
Sir Al said: “Exposure to alcohol before birth is one of the most significant causes of childhood brain damage, learning disability, poor behaviour and even criminality, affecting up to one in every 100 infants.
“There has, however, been political denial of the scale and importance of the problem,” he claimed, continuing: “It is time for concerted political and professional leadership from government, the alcohol industry, Medical Royal Colleges, and support agencies to work alongside women, families and affected adults and children to address the challenges.”