These are the key messages in current information on alcohol and pregnancy:
- There is no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Alcohol can affect the development of a baby’s brain and central nervous system throughout pregnancy, including around the time of conception.
- There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be drunk in pregnancy. Frequent heavy drinking is known to harm a developing baby, but we don’t know how much alcohol it takes to cause damage.
- A baby is not protected from alcohol by the placenta. Alcohol passes freely through the placenta and reaches concentrations in the baby’s blood that can be as high as those in the mother.
- The consequences of a woman drinking alcohol while pregnant can include:
- premature birth
- low birth weight
- a child with lifelong mental, physical, behavioural and learning disabilities (foetal alcohol spectrum disorder).
- Ministry of Health - Alcohol and pregnancy: A practical guide for health professionals (external link)(PDF 207KB)
- This podcast highlights a number of interesting facts about alcohol and pregnancy. NZ’s neglected fetal alcohol problem(external link)
- Two helpful resources from the Ministry of Health website - Alcohol: Pregnancy and babies (external link)- Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs(external link)
- The Health Promotion Agency — information, advice, research and resources to help prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. Don’t know? Don’t drink(external link)