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Light drinking in pregnancy 'safe'

Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy will not harm the baby, a new study has shown.

An analysis of 36 studies found that consumption of small amounts of alcohol among expectant mothers is not linked to premature birth, babies small for their gestational age or low birth weight.

At the same time, the study confirmed the earlier theory that heavy alcohol consumption in pregnancy will raise the chances of a baby being born premature, having a low birth weight and being small.

The guidelines from the Department of Health advise expectant mothers to abstain from alcohol completely, but the new study suggests that 10-18g alcohol a day won't harm the developing foetus.

However, consuming more than 36g of alcohol a day will raise the risk of premature birth 23%, the study said.

"Dose-response relationship indicates that heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risks of all three outcomes whereas light to moderate alcohol consumption shows no effect," said the study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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