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Diageo to fund midwife training

Around 10,000 midwives will be trained thanks to a campaign by Diageo to highlight the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

The drinks giant will pay for thousands of midwives to receive training as part of an initiative to attract the private sector into public health.

The government and the Department of Health is hoping that the move will benefit more than a million mothers to be over the next three years.

It could help expectant mothers to "make an informed decision about drinking during their pregnancy," public health minister Anne Milton said.

Government guidance is for pregnant women to avoid drinking alcohol, but if they do, to drink only one to two units, once or twice a week.

The training programme will be run by the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).

It is part of the government's "Responsibility Deal", which sees big business, charities and the retail sector working together to help people live healthier lives.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said figures from the Infant Feeding Survey 2005 for the UK showed that 34% of mothers gave up drinking when they were pregnant, 61% said they drank less during their pregnancy, and 4% reported no change to their drinking patterns.

A cautionary note was sounded by a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association, the doctors' professional association.

She said: "If the drinks industry does fund a health campaign, it is essential that independent clinical advice is sought."

Copyright Press Association 2011