Drinking just one glass of wine while pregnant, even before women know for sure they are expecting, will be recorded on their baby’s medical records under controversial new proposals.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) wants to see all alcohol consumption noted regardless of the expectant mother’s consent or the stage of pregnancy.
Midwives currently ask women about what they have drunk since conception but are not obliged to record that information.
Drinking just one glass of wine while pregnant, even before women know for sure they are expecting, will be recorded on their baby’s medical records under controversial new proposals
Under the new plans, mothers-to-be would be urged to recall how much booze they have had at antenatal appointments, with the results formally noted in maternity records before then being transferred to those of the newborn child, according to the Times.
An accurate recording of a pregnant woman’s alcohol consumption will help identify children at risk of suffering physical problems as well as issues around learning and behaviour through foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Nice says.
Being able to look at drinking habits is particularly key for children who are adopted or placed into care, it adds.
However, the proposed guidelines have proved controversial with charities who have blasted them as ‘unjustified and disproportionate’ and urged Nice to rethink the idea.
Clare Murphy from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) told the paper: ‘Women do not lose their right to medical confidentiality simply because they are pregnant.
‘Most women report drinking very little in pregnancy if any at all, even if they may have drunk before a positive pregnancy test.’
The charity, which offers advice, counselling and abortion care for some 100,000 women every year, added that there is no evidence for lower levels of alcohol consumption resulting in harm.
Elsewhere, Birthrights suggested the proposals could see a breakdown in trust between midwives and expectant mothers, while the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists admitted it ‘shares some of the concerns raised’ and legal experts suggested they could be unenforceable by breaching GDPR.
Matthew Holman, a data privacy lawyer, said: ‘Any attempt to force disclosure against the mother’s wishes is likely to be unlawful except perhaps in the most limited cases where there is a clear and present risk to the unborn child.’
Nice insists feedback from members of the public and external organisations will help shape understanding of what will and won’t work in England.