Mothers-to-be urged not to drink6th June 2007
The British Medical Association (BMA) has said that pregnant women who consume one glass of wine on a daily basis should undergo counselling in order to stop.
The BMA said women with a "confirmed or suspected" history of consuming "low-to-moderate" levels of alcohol (1.5 units a day) should be advised to stop drinking if they are pregnant or trying for a baby. When women were drinking more heavily, GPs should tell their patients to visit a specialist organisation.
The organisation also said women should be given counselling sessions, run by GPs or midwives, in order to stop drinking. The sessions would focus on the potential harm alcohol can have on unborn babies. The advice was sent out to all GPs in the first week of June 2007.
Drinking heavily can cause harm to an unborn child. Approximately 100 babies every year are born with foetal alcohol syndrome in Britain. Around 7,000 are born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Both conditions can cause a range of defects, including low birth weight, deafness and brain damage.
BMA head of science and ethics Vivienne Nathanson said: "The cost of treating a child with foetal alcohol syndrome is £1 million over a lifetime so the cost of a few thousand to provide these interventions is well worth it."
Professor Andrew Shennan, an obstetrician with the baby charity Tommy's, told the Daily Mail that huge numbers of people would be affected, incurring huge costs. He said: "There is no evidence that low amounts of alcohol are harmful and it is not unreasonable to have the occasional drink."
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