Women should not drink any alcohol during pregnancy, the British Medical Association (BMA) will warn at its annual conference this week.
The group has also criticised confusing and inconsistent advice for expectant mothers about the issue.
BMA President Elect, Sir Al Aynsley-Green 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.
“It is entirely preventable by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but despite this, advice to expectant mothers in the UK and especially England is inconsistent, contradictory and confusing, and services to support diagnosis and management of affected children are inadequate.
“There has however, been political denial of the scale and importance of the problem.
“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.”
Professor Sheila Hollins, BMA Board of Science Chair, said: “The varying and unreliable guidance on how much alcohol women can safely drink during pregnancy is incredibly confusing, and we must ensure that women receive clear and consistent messages about the risks of alcohol during pregnancy.”