Alcohol storyA large new study says the children of mothers who drink moderately in pregnancy, grow up to have better balance, than those who abstained.

Researchers from Bristol University looked at the alcohol consumption of 7,000 mothers and found there is no strong evidence that moderate alcohol consumption of a glass of wine a day has important adverse effects on the child.

Lead researcher Prof John Macleod suggested that "up to 7 glasses of alcohol a week does not harm foetal neurodevelopment" but added women could abstain whilst pregnant if they wanted to "play safe".

However, Dr James Nicholls of Alcohol Research UK said: "While advice needs to be clear, we should take note of evidence, that small amounts of alcohol are not a significant risk. Although this is only one measure of neurodevelopment – it should not be disregarded."  

Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We recognise that this is useful research. However, there is also a large amount of evidence suggesting that the cumulative effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus. 

“Our advice continues to be that for women who are trying to conceive or those that are pregnant it is best to avoid alcohol.”

Alongside the alcohol findings, the research showed that mothers-to-be being able to balance on a beam or standing on one leg is a sign of good brain development while in the womb.