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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Drinking in Pregnancy
Alcohol crosses into the baby's bloodstream during pregnancy
Heavy drinking during pregnancy can have severe effects on the unborn child, leading to learning difficulties.

BBC One has a special programme about the issue at 0915: The Innocents.

On Breakfast we spoke to our resident GP Dr Rosemary Leonard and heard from Tracey Hayter whose son Chris has been affected by her alcohol intake while pregnant

Dr Rosemary Leonard stressed that pregnant women who have the odd glass of wine should not now worry. She said the chances of the baby being affected by a small amount of alcohol is very small indeed.

However Dr Raja Mukherjee who is an expert on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder told Breakfast that the safest option was for women not to drink at all, once they know that they are pregnant.

We also spoke to Tracey Hayter. Tracey often drank a bottle of wine a day during her pregnancy - her son Chris is now thought to have FASD.

She said that she often did not realise quite how much she was drinking but that when Chris was born she realised almost straightaway that there was a problem.


In the UK, the recommended safe weekly intake is one or two units of alcohol - this is because the alcohol in a pregnant woman's bloodstream transfers into the baby's.

You should be sure to check with your GP or health worker if you are unsure what a unit is.

It is important to remember that the quantity of alcohol in spirits, wine and beer varies so you must check how many units according to the drink - these are the safe guidelines.

However there have been calls to change the guidelines - and that would mean health professionals would recommend no units during pregnancy.

This is already the case in North America.

Today's programme on BBC One (directly after Breakfast at 0915, but only if you watch BBC One and not News 24) is part of a week long series on alcohol.

Binge drinking and super-strength beers have already been the subject of the first two programmes.

Later in the week it's the turn of teenage drinking to be featured in the series, and what happens when serious drinking or alcoholism leads to liver failure.

What are the symptoms of FASD?

  • Problems with attention

  • Poor concentration and memory

  • Impulsive behaviour

  • Difficulty in taking on board new information

  • Hyperactivity, and a change in facial features are common among children with FASD - these include narrow eyes, flat nose and a thin lip but this isn't present in all cases

    FASD affects about 1% of the population but only one in 1000 have the full symptoms.

  • You should always raise any concerns about your health with your GP or other health professional

    Breakfast's debate on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

    BBC Breakfast



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