Women aged between 18 and 50 should be stopped from drinking alcohol because it may harm their chances of giving birth, World Health Organisation bosses have claimed.

In proposals slammed as "unscientific, patronising and absurd" the global health agency has said booze should be avoided among all those of "childbearing age".

The guidance is part of the WHO's draft global alcohol action plan 2022-2030.

The plan says: “Appropriate attention should be given to the prevention of the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age”.

This means women aged between 18 and 50 effectively being asked to stay abstinent - just in case they are pregnant and it harms the unborn baby.

It appears to be blanket guidance that fails to take into account women who cannot have or do not want kids.

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The WHO's plans call for the "prevention of drinking" among those of "childbearing age"

Christopher Snowdon, at think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs said the advice was “unscientific, patronising and absurd.”

Snowdon said the plans were "classic World Health Organisation idiocy", The Telegraph reports.

Matt Lambert, of the Portman Group, which represents UK brewers and distillers, branded the diktat “sexist and paternalistic”.

In the UK, mums-to-be are encouraged by the NHS to avoid drink completely due to the link between alcohol consumption while pregnant and miscarriage.

Many mums believe that a woman should be able to choose for herself and swear that light, infrequent drinking later on in their pregnancy did no harm to their baby.

Booze can however seriously affect foetal development and also runs the risk of leaving a baby with health problems after they are born.

NHS guidance advises men and women not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. That's the equivalent of six pints or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

The WHO has been approached for comment.