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Drinking alcohol in pregnancy

Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long term harm to your baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk. The Department of Health advises not to drink alcohol at all whilst pregnant to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.


How does drinking alcohol affect my baby?

When you drink alcohol, it passes from your blood stream, through the placenta to your baby. The more alcohol that you drink, the more that is passed to your baby. Exposure to too much alcohol can effect your babies development as he or she is unable to process alcohol as well as you.

What are the possible risks to my baby of drinking heavily during pregnancy?

• increased risk of early miscarriage
• increased risk of premature birth
• affected brain development
• restricted growth in the uterus
• increased risk of stillbirth
• illness in childhood and infancy
• fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) – this can occur in babies whose mothers drank heavily throughout pregnancy. Children with FAS may have facial abnormalities, physical disabilities, poor growth and mental health and developmental difficulties.


When should I stop drinking?

It is best to stop drinking when you are planning to become pregnant. However, if you have just discovered you are pregnant, and you have been drinking it is best to avoid any further drinking. If you have any concerns about the effect this may have had please speak to your midwife or doctor.

Who to speak to and where to get help and information?

If you want impartial help with reducing your alcohol intake please talk to your midwife, obstetrician, GP, practice nurse or health visitor.
You can also find further information at:

For alcohol support services in your area click here


Further sources of information

Local sources of help and support