This advice replaces existing guidance which states that women can drink one or two units of alcohol per week.
The guidance has been introduced to provide a stronger and more consistent message, but is not based on any new evidence to say that moderate alcohol intake is dangerous for the foetus.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Fiona Adshead said: 'We have strengthened out advice to women to help ensure that no-one underestimates the risk to the developing foetus of drinking above recommended safe levels. Our advice is simple: avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive.' Dr Adshead has also recommended that this advice should be printed on packaging and labels.
However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is planning to keep their existing advice that moderate drinking is perfectly safe during pregnancy. The college said that it would look at the DoH advice and decide whether to adapt their own guidelines in due course.
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