Alcohol, pregnancy and infant health

Of all the lifestyle choices people make in conjunction with pregnancy, none are of greater importance to the child’s future health and development than the ones people make in relation to alcohol. This report aims to emphasise parenthood and the relationship with alcohol as a shared responsibility and an important equality issue. The research clearly shows that alcohol can cause more foetal damage than virtually any other substance. In every other context, people would avoid things that can be hazardous to the unborn child, even in the absence of 100% proof of the potential for harm. This is even more important when it comes to alcohol, where the research findings are clear and the risks substantial. New research, which is highlighted in the report, shows that a man’s alcohol consumption prior to the pregnancy can damage the foetus and impact the child’s birth weight and health by causing changes to the sperm’s genome.


Foetal damage is one of the clearest examples of the second-hand harm caused by alcohol. The cost of FAS (foetal alcohol syndrome) in Sweden is estimated at SEK 14 billion per annum, calculated on the basis that 0.2% of all children in Sweden are born with FAS. The biggest share of these costs derives from support provided by society. A great many researchers, paediatricians, midwives, and nurses in Sweden call for increased knowledge and awareness of the risks associated with alcohol. Our aim, through this report, is to help ensure that prospective parents are able to reduce the risks by being better informed. That information is currently lacking and no authority has currently taken responsibility for remedying this deficit. The most common reaction amongst people who have suffered various types of harm is to wish that they had known more about the risks – that someone had told them. This is a shared responsibility of society as a whole, and the report also stresses the importance of preventative measures at societal level.

Gunnel Hensing,
Acting Director, CERA, Göteborgs Universitet 

Ami Hommel,
Chair, Svensk sjuksköterskeförening  

Magnus Isacson,
Chair, Svensk Förening för Allmänmedicin  

Arne Winerdal,
Chair, SAFF 

Johnny Mostacero,