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PRU-MHC: Policy Research Unit in Maternal Health & Care (2010 - 2018)

Review of fetal alcohol effects

The effects on the developing fetus and child of alcohol abuse during pregnancy and exposure to high quantities of alcohol prenatally have been well documented. The degree of severity of the sequelae range from full blown fetal alcohol syndrome in extreme cases to effects on development, growth and neurodevelopment either singly or in combination. In recent years very little work has been conducted in the UK focusing on prenatal alcohol exposure. This is in contrast to the increase in binge drinking amongst young women. The Department of Health commissioned the NPEU to carry out a review into the effects of low- to- moderate prenatal alcohol exposure on the developing fetus and child and also to carry out a review of the research needs in the area of prenatal alcohol exposure. Therefore two pieces of work were carried out in parallel. Firstly a systematic review of the effects of low- to -moderate alcohol exposure and binge drinking during pregnancy was conducted. Second an expert advisory group was set up to consider priorities for research in the area of prenatal alcohol exposure and to advise the Department of Health accordingly. The final report was completed at the end of January 2006.

View the full report

NPEU Contact:
Jenny Kurinczuk (