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Pregnant women warned over alcohol

A fresh bid to force the drinks sector to warn pregnant women about the dangers of consuming alcohol has been launched in the House of Lords.

Labour's Lord Mitchell told peers: "This isn't about more nannying. It's about more information."

Opening the second reading debate on his Alcohol Labelling Bill, Lord Mitchell said there is a "dire" problem of alcohol abuse in Britain, adding that the "epidemic" of binge drinking is not confined to men and involves more and more women.

Yet he said that there is now strong evidence that women who drink at any stage of pregnancy run the risk of damaging their baby - either slightly or severely.

Lord Mitchell said an attempt last year to bring in compulsory warnings on the labels of alcoholic beverages ran into the buffers, and he said the preferred route of the Health Department and the drinks industry was a voluntary code.

But he added: "I'm no fan of self-regulation. The time for talking is over. Let's see some action."

The Bill would force the drinks industry to put the warning: "Avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive" on bottles and cans.

For the Conservatives, Lord McColl of Dulwich agreed binge drinking was very harmful and added: "As women aren't aware precisely when they are conceiving, all women of child-bearing age should avoid binge-drinking like the plague."

The Bill gained an unopposed second reading.

House of Lords

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