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Women have been told the safest approach in pregnancy is to not drink at all after a recent study found that more than half of women exceed the recommended drinking limits during the first three months of pregnancy.
The Royal College of Obstetricians issued the following advice:
- The safest approach in pregnancy is to choose not to drink at all
- No more than one to two units have been shown to be harmful
- Drinking one to two units no more than once or twice a week has been shown to be harmful
- One unit of alcohol is equivalent of a half a pint of lager or beer, a glass of wine or a single shot of a spirit
- Drinking five or more units of alcohol on one occasion is known as binge drinking
- Regular binge drinking particularly in the early stages, is harmful to a woman and her baby
Women should avoid all alcohol during pregnancy, according to Daybreak's medical editor Dr Hilary Jones.
He said women drinking during pregnancy, particularly in the early stages, would hurt their unborn child and should follow the advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and have "none at all".
There is no safe limit but even small amounts of alcohol can affect the baby," Dr Hilary said.
"The baby after all, starts off as a few grams in weight, a woman might weigh six, seven, eight stone - that is a lot of weight to what she is drinking,
"But the baby is getting all the alcohol that a woman is consuming, through a placenta and a baby's developing liver has not got the ability to detoxify the alcohol."
Middle class women are more likely than women from other classes to drink more than the recommended limits during pregnancy, researchers said.
They called for health officials to revise their guidance on drinking in pregnancy after their study showed that even those adhering to the suggested limits are more likely to have problems with their babies than those who do not drink at all.
More than half of women drink more than the recommended limits during the first three months of pregnancy, a study has suggested.
Some 53% of women drank more than the upper limit of two units a week during the first trimester, with middle class women are more likely than women from other classes to drink more than the recommended limits during pregnancy, figures show.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined 1,200 women in Leeds who filled out food frequency questionnaires, including information on alcohol consumption during the month before conception and the three trimesters of pregnancy.
If a woman drank more than two units a week during the first three months of pregnancy they are twice as likely to have a baby who was born "small for gestational age" when compared to non-drinkers, the researchers found.