Health experts in the UK will today argue that Government advice telling women not to drink during pregnancy is ‘sexist’ and ‘overcautious’.


Researchers from the University of Kent and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) are set to present their fresh views on the subject at a conference in Canterbury Christ Church University, today.


Currently, the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer advises women not to drink alcohol at all during their pregnancy.


A statement from the Department reads: “Given the harmful drinking patterns in Ireland, and the propensity to binge drink; there is a substantial risk of neurological damage to the foetus resulting in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Therefore, it is in the child’s best interest for a pregnant woman not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.”


Of course, numerous studies have linked excessive alcohol consumption with an increased risk of a child being born premature, underweight or with low IQ.


In this week’s debate, the research team will reportedly suggest that small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are actually not as harmful as the Government guidelines suggest.


Clare Murphy, of BPAS, said ahead of the conference: “There can be real consequences to overstating evidence, or implying certainty where there isn’t any. Doing so can cause women needless anxiety and alarm. It assumes women cannot be trusted to understand risk, and when it comes to alcohol, the difference between low and heavy consumption.



 “Women don’t stop being people with the capacity and the right to make their own informed choices just because they are pregnant.”


While the researchers would not be drawn on the amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy, they asserted that they want to remove the ‘stigma’ attached to the practice.


The latest news comes a year-and-a-half after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists updated their regulations, advising women who were trying to conceive or in the first trimester of their pregnancy to totally abstain from alcohol.


Previously, they had stated that a couple of glasses of wine a week was acceptable.


It will be interesting to see how the researchers’ new recommendations will go down at the conference and, furthermore, with the Government. We will keep you updated on the story as more information emerges.


What are your thoughts? Do you agree that the Government is being overly cautious? Let us know in the comment section.