Pregnant women receive mixed health messages

Swiss gynaecologists and midwives often give conflicting advice to pregnant women regarding smoking and drinking alcohol, a study has revealed.

This content was published on September 3, 2008 minutes

While 72 per cent of gynaecologists advise women to give up smoking during pregnancy, they differ on the effect moderate alcohol consumption can have on the unborn child.

The study, conducted by Basel University on behalf of the Federal Health Office, found that only just over half of the doctors surveyed recommended strict abstinence from alcohol. Four out of ten doctors said alcohol was all right now and again.

Only half of the midwives recommended giving up smoking and drinking entirely. The other half said women should merely reduce consumption during pregnancy. Nearly a quarter agreed that two to three alcoholic drinks a week were harmless.

Most gynaecologists and midwives also give advice about diet, but do not routinely mention the possible consequences for the unborn child of eating disorders, according to the authors of the study, which was based on interviews with 850 gynaecologists and midwives across Switzerland.

The World Health Organization says that smoking in pregnancy is dangerous to the mother as well as to the foetus and has long-term effects on the baby after birth.

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