WFSBP * and IAWMH ** Guidelines for the treatment of alcohol use disorders in pregnant women

World J Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Jan;20(1):17-50. doi: 10.1080/15622975.2018.1510185. Epub 2019 Jan 11.


Objectives: These practice guidelines for the treatment of alcohol use disorders during pregnancy were developed by members of the International Task Force of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry and the International Association for Women's Mental Health.

Methods: We performed a systematic review of all available publications and extracted data from national and international guidelines. The Task Force evaluated the data with respect to the strength of evidence for the efficacy and safety of each medication.

Results and discussion: There is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Abstinence is recommended. Ideally, women should stop alcohol use when pregnancy is planned and, in any case, as soon as pregnancy is known. Detecting patterns of alcohol maternal drinking should be systematically conducted at first antenatal visit and throughout pregnancy. Brief interventions are recommended in the case of low or moderate risk of alcohol use. Low doses of benzodiazepines, for the shortest duration, may be used to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms when high and chronic alcohol intake is stopped and hospitalisation is recommended. Due to the low level of evidence and/or to low benefit/risk ratio, pharmacological treatment for maintenance of abstinence should not be used during pregnancy. At birth, foetal alcohol spectrum disorders must be searched for, and alcohol metabolites should be measured in meconium of neonates in any doubt of foetal alcohol exposure.

Keywords: AUD; Alcohol; FASD; brief interventions; pharmacological treatment; pregnancy; women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / drug therapy
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Biological Psychiatry / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Societies, Medical / standards*