Pregnancy and alcohol – the Australian Medical Association's perspective

Dr Steve Hambleton, a former Australian Medical Association president, talks about and supports the Women Want to Know initiative. He encourages all health professionals to discuss the risks of alcohol with pregnant women.


Dr Steve Hambleton (outgoing president, Australian Medical Association):

The AMA encourages all health professionals who are dealing with pregnant women to discuss the risks of alcohol and the risks to the unborn child, and the fact that the alcohol does cross the placenta. So we do want our midwives, our doctors, our GPs, our obstetricians, all doctors and health professionals to actually convey that information.

Women Want To Know is a really important project because they do want to know and they do expect their health professionals to actually provide them with information, and this is a very important piece of information about how to protect their unborn child.

So National Health and Medical Research Council changed their Guidelines in 2009 and we looked at the research and certainly we know that high levels of alcohol consumption are harmful. Alcohol crosses the placenta and does harm the fetus. We looked for information about what levels ah that ah that harm diminished and we couldn't find any. The best advice is no alcohol consumption.

Look, there would appear to be a reluctance to have a discussion about alcohol. This is something that's quite socially acceptable. In fact the tolerance of alcohol consumption in our community is quite high. But we also know that 95 per cent of women expect us to bring it up so it's something that this project wants to support, provide information, allow us to have that conversation, and protect the next generation. As part of this important project, um there are continuous professional development modules that we've made available to health professionals, to help them, you know, start the conversation and also provide very good information for their patients, and they'll be available on the web at

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In this video, the former Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton:

  • encourages all health professionals who deal with pregnant women to discuss the risks of alcohol
  • recognises that pregnant women expect their doctors to inform them about how alcohol affects pregnancy
  • gives his views on the Women Want To Know initiative
  • endorses the initiative

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