Heavy drinking throughout pregnancy has been known to cause alcohol dependency in new-born infants and abnormalities affecting growth, mental retardation and low intelligence, and facial and other physical defects, and organ damage.
This is known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The physical, mental, and emotional effects caused by FAS are tragically irreversible. Even moderate amounts of alcohol are thought to have a detrimental impact on the well-being of expectant mothers and the unborn child.
For years doctors have suggested that pregnant women should have no more than four units of alcohol a week and no more than a single unit in 24 hours. The truth is, it is not fully known what the impact of even such moderate amounts may have on a developing fetus. There is no recommended safe level of alcohol for pregnant women.
New advice from the Department of Health recommends that women should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.