The Department of Health says this change isn’t due to new scientific evidence, but that the new advice is to ensure mums-to-be don’t underestimate the risks alcohol can pose to a developing foetus.
While heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby, and can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, the effects of a low to moderate intake of alcohol are not as clear.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no evidence that one to two units per week during will do any harm to an unborn baby. The Department of Health has reassured women who followed the previous guidelines that they “will not have put themselves or their baby at risk.”
The National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, Dr Shelia Shribman, acknowledges there’s still uncertainty about the exact impact alcohol has on unborn babies, and that the stronger advice to abstain from alcohol completely is to alert women to the potential dangers of excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy.