Alcohol toxicity during (and before) pregnancy

WestReproductive Health and Childbirth
Start Date: 30 Sep 2016


In current guidance, pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol, although drinking one or two units, no more than twice a week is acceptable. Existing evidence is variable, ranging from studies suggesting that any alcohol is damaging to the foetus or fertility, to studies indicating that various low-to-moderate levels may be safe.

The lack of clarity on whether there is a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, based on published academic literature, has led to confusion for women as well as policy makers. A thorough and systematic review of all the available evidence on this issue is needed.

Study aims

This work aims to find out what is known about the effects of prenatal alcohol consumption on pregnancy, including complications, delivery outcomes and foetal alcohol syndrome. We will review all the available evidence, which will then be used to inform new guidance for pregnant women.

This project also looks at the existing guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the evidence they were based on. A focus for the project is identifying practical and meaningful outcomes of alcohol toxicity during pregnancy.

Anticipated impacts

Our evidence review will inform policy makers producing new guidance for pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant.

Luisa Zuccolo