A review of policies on alcohol use during pregnancy in Australia and other English-speaking countries, 2006

Colleen M O’Leary, Louise M Heuzenroeder, Elizabeth J Elliott and Carol I Bower
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01257.x
Published online: 3 September 2007

In reply: Morley and colleagues and Miers raise a number of interesting discussion points. As we reported in our policy review, the Canadian, United Kingdom and Australian guidelines have similar intent but differ in emphasis.1 Health Canada’s policy position is that, although abstinence is the prudent choice, fetal risk is relative to the amount of alcohol consumed and is minimal with low levels of maternal alcohol intake. Australian policy addresses the same issues, with less emphasis on abstinence and more on avoiding intoxication and ensuring low-level alcohol consumption. Since our review was published, UK guidelines have been reframed to emphasise abstinence, but their message has not changed — they now place more weight on avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.2

  • Colleen M O’Leary1,2
  • Louise M Heuzenroeder3
  • Elizabeth J Elliott4
  • Carol I Bower1,2

  • 1 Department of Population Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.
  • 3 Mental Health Research and Outcomes, Central Northern Adelaide Health Service, Glenside Campus, Adelaide, SA.
  • 4 Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, and Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit, University of Sydney, Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.



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