Pregnant women who drink alcohol deserve compassion – not judgement

Higher consumption of alcohol is often related to mental problems like depression and anxiety, writes Ian Hamilton

Monday 21 March 2022 12:30 GMT
Women’s health is still not treated on a par to men’s health
Women’s health is still not treated on a par to men’s health (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Should you drink when trying to conceive? And what about once you are pregnant? To try and answer these questions, as well as provide information for women, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new guidance.

While it’s obvious that avoiding alcohol altogether will minimise the risk of harm to the fetus, this is not always a realistic option. The overall aim is to reduce the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is a wide ranging condition which can include hundreds of symptoms, from cognitive problems through to damage to vital organs like the kidneys and heart.

The guidelines state that pregnant women should “discuss the risks of drinking in pregnancy with their midwife or healthcare professional at antenatal appointments throughout their pregnancy”. They also urge healthcare professionals to explain, “the benefits to the baby of avoiding alcohol, including preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and advises that the safest approach is to not drink alcohol at all”.

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