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Drink during pregnancy an individual choice
[Posted: Mon 29/10/2007 by Olivia Fens www.irishhealth.com]
Women should decide for themselves if they want to drink small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy, a UK doctor has said.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, obstetrician Pat O'Brien said there was no evidence that low to moderate drinking caused some of the health problems for children associated with heavy drinking during pregnancy.
The opinion comes after the Irish government and drinks manufacturers agreed to introduce warnings to pregnant women on all alcoholic drink labels.
Recently, Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Kiely, officially recommended that pregnant women drink no alcohol. This year the UK government also changed its advice to recommend pregnant women abstain from drinking.
Fetal alcohol syndrome, although rare, is a serious condition and is clearly a consequence of heavy alcohol intake during pregnancy. It is also the leading cause of non-genetic intellectual disability in the Western world.
Mr O'Brien said: “women are entitled to decide for themselves and their babies - some are more risk averse than others and will wish to abstain completely.”
He added that the ban was likely to lead to women not admitting having drunk alcohol in pregnancy for fear of being judged.
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