Wednesday 28 September 2016

Concern over alcohol during pregnancy

Published 07/07/2015 | 02:30

Irish women are more inclined to drink while pregnant than their counterparts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, according to a new international analysis
Irish women are more inclined to drink while pregnant than their counterparts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, according to a new international analysis

It has been observed that ignorance is like alcohol: the more you have of it, the less you are able to see its effect on you. But it is becoming increasingly hard to understand how anybody could be ignorant of the dangers of drinking.

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That is why the news that Irish women are more likely to drink when pregnant than expectant mothers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, is so unsettling. Nobody wants to live in a nanny state, but public health guidelines are based on research which suggests an unborn baby is at real risk of mental and physical problems from alcohol.

According to Dr Linda O'Keeffe: "The big message here is the mismatch between what the guidelines say and what women are doing. We must put the responsibility on government, policy and public health to ensure we are conveying the guidelines effectively."

The Department of Health makes it simple - total abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy. Perhaps the problem is that women can be unaware they are in early pregnancy. If the message is not getting through then the health department has to try harder, but if it is being ignored then there are grounds for real concern.

Irish Independent

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