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Alcohol and Pregnancy

The Department of Health's current guidelines suggest that pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol. If they choose to drink they should not drink more than 1-2 units once or twice a week and should not get drunk.

Drinking more than 1-2 units once or twice a week during pregnancy can put a developing baby's health at serious risk of a variety of problems.

When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes from the mothers blood, through the placenta, to the baby. A baby's liver does not mature properly until the second half of a pregnancy . This means that the baby cannot process alcohol as well as the mother. Alcohol can damage the developing organs and nervous system of the baby.

Continued heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome. This is a life long condition and children can have a range of symptoms such as low birth weight, facial abnormalities and learning and behavioural difficulties. The severity of the condition depends upon the level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.