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Pregnancy (Alcohol Consumption)

Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has studied the leaflet "Should I Drink?" published by the handicapped children's fund as a contribution to the International Year of Disabled People; if he will take steps to commend the advice given to pregnant women in the document; and if he will make a statement.

I have seen and cannot commend the leaflet. Its main purpose is to advise total abstinence. The evidence available does not support this.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now prepare guidelines for general practitioners on the effects on child health of the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy; and if he will make a statement.

No. I refer the right hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 26 November [Vol. 13, c. 457–8]. The advice given by the Health Departments and the Health Education Council is that excessive drinking during pregnancy can damage the foetus. This advice is contained in literature made widely available to doctors and mothers-to-be. It has not been established that moderate drinking by pregnant women is hazardous.