Only one in three pregnant women in Switzerland stops drinking

Too much alcohol can be harmful in pregnancy, experts say Keystone


Only a third of pregnant and breastfeeding women are following the Federal Office of Public Health’s guidelines on giving up alcohol completely, a report has found.

SRF/SDA-ATS/ilj

Women tend to drink much less during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, according to a survey by the non-governmental organisation Addiction Switzerland, on behalf of the health office. But almost one in six women drinks alcohol at least once a week, Addiction Switzerland spokesman Markus Meury told Swiss public television SRF on Friday.

“There are around 6% of pregnant or breastfeeding women in Switzerland who are drinking four or more glasses of alcohol on one occasion at least once a month. This means really drinking too much. And this is probably the highest risk to the child,” Meury said.

Only one in three did not drink alcohol at all, which is what the Federal Office of Public Health recommends.

The latest addiction monitoring report was based on interviews that took place from 2011-2016. Until recently, moderate drinking – the odd glass of wine or beer – was not considered harmful to an unborn or newborn child.

“The latest studies have put this in doubt,” Meury said. “Nowadays we reckon that around 2% of newborns in Switzerland are born with alcohol use disorders.”

Raising awareness

As September 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Day, Addiction Switzerland is using the occasion to raise awareness of the risks linked to drinking during pregnancy. FAS can cause brain damage and growth problems.

Meury said that moving in social circles that don’t encourage drinking is key for expectant mothers, and that doctors should better explain the risks linked to alcohol to their patients.

Thomas Eggimann, board member of the Swiss Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics, told SRF that Swiss gynaecologists are currently revising their strategy on the issue. He said more weight should be given to prevention work in this area.

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