Pregnant women, or those trying to conceive, should avoid alcohol completely, says a BMA report published today.
Current government guidance says that women can drink one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week. But because evidence is still emerging on the effects of low or moderate prenatal alcohol exposure, until the situation is clarified the BMA say it is not safe to drink any alcohol while pregnant, or trying to get pregnant.
Heavy drinking during pregnancy is known to cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, such as learning disabilities and behavioural problems. The BMA are calling for raised awareness of these disorders and clear, evidence-based guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, said: 'Healthcare professionals need to get the message across to expectant mothers that consuming alcohol can cause irreversible harm to their unborn child.'