The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has urged for caution over the interpretation of new findings published in the British Journal of Obstetrics on drinking during pregnancy.

The research, by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, claims women can drink light - about one-two units a week - without harming their baby or resulting in premature birth or impaired foetus growth.

However, the RCM has called caution to be exercised when it comes to interpreting the results. The RCM's education and professional development advisor, Gail Johnson, said: "This research is interesting, but it is important to recognise that the study has only looked at birth weight and the size for a (foetus)' gestational age, the RCM urges caution in interpreting the research and that its findings do not send out the wrong messages about pregnancy and alcohol consumption to pregnant women.

"There is still no evidence to suggest what a 'safe' consumption limit of alcohol in pregnancy is and there is the potential for further confusion when the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman consumes depends on the size of the glass and the strength of the alcohol she drinks. Other critical variables are her BMI and how often she consumes alcohol. We know that a build up of alcohol consumption can damage the unborn child.

"Women should avoid alcohol in pregnancy and midwives should discuss the negative impact of alcohol consumption on both, the woman and her unborn child. The RCM position remains clear and unchanged: women should avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The only way to remove the risks associated with alcohol in pregnancy is to avoid alcohol consumption if you are pregnant or trying to conceive."

Posted by Robert Mair on 6.7.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: