Eating their own

Advising women not to drink when pregnant is “sexist” and causes “needless anxiety”, senior academics have said.

Pregnancy charities and researchers have called for a change to the “alarmist” official Government guidelines, which warn expectant mothers to avoid alcohol completely.

They say the policy has no basis in evidence and ends up “stigmatising” women and excluding them from society.

If they’d not got hysterical on the subject in the first place then they wouldn’t have to do this now, would they?

35 thoughts on “Eating their own”

  1. Now if they could apply the same logic to radioactivity (no such thing as a safe dose!), the world would be a better place…

  2. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome cannot be studied in a properly controlled prospective gold standard scientific study, just not ethical, so epidemiological studies are used which can only suggest correlations.

    Full blown FAS is diagnosable as a cluster of signs and symptoms but not by any one test and it is incapacitating for the entire life of the individual and disrupts normal family life because of attendant behavioural problems. If alcohol’s effects are dose related and vary with the gestational age of the foetus, there are probably far more individuals with more subtle problems eg learning disabilities, that cannot be definitively tied to alcohol during pregnancy but which are caused by it.

    I am not normally an enthusiast for the precautionary principle but if you want a child, shouldn’t you attempt to have an undamaged one ? Have the months off alcohol rather than being driven to drink by a damaged sprog for a lifetime?

  3. Is 9 months off alcohol really that difficult as a precaution if you are pregnant? Such a minor thing to give up and the risks of alcohol having a negative impact are so large. Do they just not give a f*** about their baby?

  4. Sexist? Don’t be so stupid! If men could be pregnant, no doubt drinking loads of alcohol while pregnant would also be a bad idea.

    In other news, wimmin are advised to check themselves for testicular lumps……

  5. The occasional glass of red wine etc with dinner isn’t going to harm the child.

    FAS is found mostly in female alkis and borderline alkis. Getting pissed while pregnant is not a good idea but common sense says that without need for health commissars.

  6. Mr Ecks: I beg to differ. I remember an impeccably middleclass family, whose mother I knew socially, who had a child with fullblown FAS. Alcohol probably interacts with other factors such as diet, genes and susceptible period. The mother discovered her pregnancy after an indulgent holiday but was otherwise a very light social drinker.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Nautical Nick – “If men could be pregnant, no doubt drinking loads of alcohol while pregnant would also be a bad idea.”

    If men stopped drinking loads of alcohol, I reckon a lot fewer women would get pregnant.

    “In other news, wimmin are advised to check themselves for testicular lumps……”

    Some people have already objected to the Vagina Monologs because it alienates women who do not have vaginas.

  8. And some people croak if they eat peanuts. So what?

    The odd anecdotal anomaly does not make the general rule.

  9. they’ve done the old Phd versus MD switcheroo….shoddy journalism in a medical story.

    Dr Ellie Lee, Director of the Centre of Parenting Culture Studies

  10. The evidence against smoking during pregnancy is much stronger than the evidence against drinking. I’d be concerned that young women will hear the message that alcohol isn’t that bad, and immediately infer that smoking is ok too.

    Sure, the government could withdraw from the nosy meddling advice-giving business. But we all benefit from not being surrounded by retarded kids; so on balance I’d rather keep their nose in.

  11. Mr Ecks: the point is
    FAS is caused by alcohol.
    Milder problems are hard to pinpont as caused by alcohol.
    It is multifactorial.
    Living with a damaged child is awful and avoidable.
    I trained as a doctor in the Western Cape which has the highest documented incidence of FAS worldwide as well as the best epidemiological data, mostly focussed on the lower social classes who use state provisioned healthcare. I think my knowledge goes beyond anecdote.
    The middle classes keep very quiet when they have an affected child.

  12. @Ljh
    > Milder problems are hard to pinpoint as caused by alcohol.

    So it’s just conjecture. I can accept that heavy drinking in pregnancy is an issue, but the poison is in the dose. You’ll need better evidence than “hard to pinpoint” to make me worry about a woman who has a glass of wine once or twice a week whilst pregnant is harming her baby.

  13. Ljh, where did you train? I used to work weekends in casualty at Victoria Hospital and another one on the Cape Flats (whose name escapes me) when I served in the SADF Medical Corps.

  14. “If men stopped drinking loads of alcohol, I reckon a lot fewer women would get pregnant.”

    Certainly fewer munters.

  15. Ian Reid: alcohol is teratogenic over a wide range of animal species. Damage is related to dose, length of exposure and gestational age.
    The above is proven by gold standard double blind prospective studies. You cannot experiment on humans to determine a safe dose which is anyway variable in animals due to diet and genes.
    Animal models are useless when it comes to measuring effects on behaviour and cognition.
    There is enough evidence to extrapolate and advise from animal models as well as epidemiology. Only the most damaged children are diagnosed with FAS but there must exist a spectrum of lesser damage as demonstrated in poisoned animals.
    Pregnancy is of limited duration but the results are around a long time after that. Would you like to experiment with your future children? Do document and keep me informed.

  16. Mal Reynolds,

    You are obviously a dumb dickhead who does not understand the concept of risk factors. The scientific evidence is quite clear, moderate drinking during pregnancy poses negligible risk to the baby. Being an alcoholic does pose a serious risk of FAS. If you are a moderate drinker, why give up alcohol when the risk is negligible? Why not give up driving or just walking down the street?

    Your “Do they not just give a f*** about their baby?” is the sort of ignorant prejudice that causes women to be bullied when indulging in a pleasure that poses negligible risk, so go fuck yourself.


    You don’t actually know, given that you are not with a person 24/7, what their actual drinking habits are.


  17. Ljh,

    Anecdotal, I’ll concede. We have four children. My wife drunk moderately during all four pregnancies. We have one PhD, one due shortly and one in the pipeline. Our children are not aware that degrees under First Class Honours exist. They are all physically fit.

  18. AndrewM: “Sure, the government could withdraw from the nosy meddling advice-giving business. But we all benefit from not being surrounded by retarded kids”

    The government doesn’t benefit. MOAR STATE EMPLOYEES!

  19. Surely the point of the advice is that:
    1) ‘Too much’ alcohol when pregnant is bad
    2) But a ‘moderate’ amount is unlikely to cause any harm

    But, we don’t know at what dose ‘moderate’ becomes ‘too much’. In any case, ‘moderate’ for one person could easily be ‘too much’ for another, etc.

    Additionally, there is a benefit to guidelines being clear. How would people cope if the government were to say that “1 drink a day is safe to a 95% confidence interval”?

    Public health guidelines are necessarily a crude measure – we are all different, after all. But this is one area where I’d say it is perfectly reasonable to suggest very conservative guidelines of what can be considered ‘healthy’.

  20. Did doctors once recommend a glass of Guiness or stut with meals?
    Or is that legend / soemthing to be flushed down the memory hole?

  21. Post parturition, definitely, Mother recalls getting it from the NHS (and that her father was a GP might have helped). Pre- not so sure.

  22. @DocBud: I barely drink, though not tee-total I have probably gone 9 months without before (just wasn’t counting). The idea that not drinking is “stigmatising” and “excludes women from society” is absolutely preposterous. It’s not a big ask to suggest that people should consider also not drinking whilst pregnant because it does appear to carry a risk (varying on amount), and if it does cause any harm, even if minor, then that reverberates through 80 years of their child’s life. Obviously I would oppose mandatory alcohol abstention and generally oppose public health prod noses. But my reaction was to the shrieks of “misogyny” and “stigmatizing” about something like this (as if it’s just men trying to control what women do for no reason other than them being women). We’re balancing 9 months (probably fewer given time to realise you’re pregnant) of no alcohol versus 80 years of the potential impact of it. Seems to me that weights it quite considerably towards “try to avoid alcohol” more than “drink away as usual!”. And hence why anyone who thinks they should “drink away as usual” does not seem to care all that much about the 80 years of their child’s life.

    As a slight aside, the use of term “stigmatizing” rather suggests to me that the alcohol amounts being consumed were/are quite high, given that it is quite an extreme term. “Stigmatizing” levels of alcohol are not in the realm of a glass of wine now and again, they are in the realm of a bottle/ heavy night out.

  23. Hysteria over a glass of wine while pregnant, embarrassed silence over first cousin marriage.

    I wonder which has the biggest effect on the child?

  24. Ecks:

    “Unless she ate the peanuts with her vagina that is.”

    Andrew M:

    “The evidence against smoking during pregnancy is much stronger than the evidence against drinking.”

    May I join these 2 comments together, and ask if anyone knows whether a pregnant woman smoking with her vagina poses a health risk to her unborn child? And if it does, can this be avoided if she does not “inhale”, but say simply blows smoke rings (I’ve not seen this but understand it is possible).

  25. Bloke in France

    Anecdote but when my mum was pregnant with me (1970s) she had low iron. She’s told me that she was advised by her GP to have a regular glass of stout.

  26. I played a bit of golf with a doc whose major field of study was FAS (in the Western Cape). When my missus was up,the duff, I asked him about this sort of stuff. He said two things. One, she might have had quite a lot to drink in the first few weeks when she wasn’t aware that she was pregnant. Two, she wasn’t a huge abuser. Chances are no harm done. Once aware not a drop until child born. My unscientific view is that lgh is right. Abstinence is best. Still no reason to bully women who have the odd glass. Child is an academic overachiever, btw.

  27. BiF
    Our daughter was premature, and she cried incessantly for weeks. My wife took her to our GP. The doctor examined the baby and said, ‘Only one thing will help. Gin.’ ‘Gin?’, said my wife, ‘For the baby?’ ‘No’, said the doctor, ‘for you. And make it a stiff one!’

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