Skip to content

Alcohol in pregnancy - What is a safe amount to drink?

Text displayed on screen: Did you know 50% of pregnancies are unplanned… and there is a strong association between binge drinking and pregnancy.

47% of Australian women consume alcohol while pregnant, before knowing they are pregnant. 20% of Australian women continue drinking after knowing they are pregnant.

Professor Carol Bower, Head of Alcohol, Pregnancy and FASD Research at the Telethon Kids Institute, says:

Alcohol crosses straight across the placenta. There's no filtering process that goes on, so the baby is exposed to the same level of alcohol that the mother has in her blood. And in fact it lingers for a little longer because getting rid of it back across the placenta is a little slower and the baby doesn't metabolise the alcohol as fast as the mother generally does. So they can in some circumstances have a higher concentration or for a longer period than the mother.

Text displayed on screen: Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD.

The effects…

  • Poor growth
  • Brain damage
  • Birth defects
  • Delayed development
  • Social and behavioural problems
  • Learning problems

… are lifelong.

Professor Carol Bower says:

We know what it does to our own brain, and this little brain is undergoing enormous changes in a very short space of time, so it's not surprising that it is affected by alcohol.

Text displayed on screen: Experts say there is no safe limit of alcohol to drink while pregnant. They recommend staying off the booze if you’re trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Professor Carol Bower says:

No alcohol in pregnancy is the safest choice, and if women can make that choice then they'll be ensuring that their baby's brain is not affected by alcohol.