Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Alcohol and pregnancy

No alcohol in pregnancy is the best and safest choice.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it passes from her blood through the placenta to the developing baby.

Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS have restricted growth, distinctive facial features, and lifelong learning and behaviour problems.

Regularly drinking in pregnancy and binge drinking can still lead to less severe forms of FAS, known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Although FASD babies can look healthy, their brains are permanently damaged.

Find out more about FASD - NOFAS-UK


Scotland's Chief Medical Officer advises that women who are trying to become pregnant or are pregnant should avoid drinking alcohol.

Research has not established a 'safe' level of alcohol intake while pregnant. What is clear is that the risk of harm to the unborn baby increases the more alcohol is consumed and binge drinking is especially harmful.

No alcohol is the best and safest choice.

E-learning resource

NHS Education for Scotland has published a Fetal Alcohol Harm e-learning resource which provides comprehensive and up to date information for professionals on the prevention, identification and management of fetal alcohol harm.