Prospective mothers are certainly better off reducing or completely eliminating alcohol from their diet during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It is better for their general health, and it is in the best interests of the baby.

In recent years, many maternal research centers have published documented evidence of the deleterious effect alcohol may have on the baby. A condition called fetal alcohol syndrome is becoming more and more common. This produces adverse physical and mental defects, and the child, if he survives, may be mentally defective for life. Many severe cases end in death.

Doctors have now stated categorically that alcohol in any form and in any amount is definitely not recommended during pregnancy. The risks of a defective baby are too high, short-term as well as long-term. Not long ago, the College of Psychiatrists claimed that alcohol is now considered to be the most common cause of mental retardation in babies of the Western world.

The greater the consumption of alcohol, the worse are the effects. Indeed, many instances have been reported of severe deformity, mentally and physically, to the baby.

It is also worth noting that beer contains the least concentration of alcohol; spirits (whisky, etc.) the highest concentration. So, if drinking habits are continued, then drinking the smallest amounts of the least harmful type of alcoholic beverage is best. However, sensible women find that they find more pleasure in replacing alcoholic beverages with tangy, fresh fruit juices or even chilled fresh water. Fresh fruit juices are often rich in vitamins, and these could help provide the vitamin needs of the parent and the developing infant.


Immunisation and vaccination

Some women may find it necessary to travel overseas during their pregnancy. The question relating to the need for vaccination against various diseases arises.

Ideally, vaccination should not be carried out during the first three to four months of pregnancy.

Primary smallpox vaccination is not recom­mended until at least the twentieth week. However, with smallpox virtually eliminated from the world, few countries now insist on vaccination against this. It is not required for re-entry into Australia, New Zealand, Britain or America.

Protection against cholera and typhoid is claimed to be safe, but many doctors would prefer not to give these vaccinations either during the first three-month segment of the pregnancy.

Revaccination against poliomyelitis is claimed to be safe.