Thursday 9 October 2014

No Safe Level

Loyal readers here know the data on drinking and pregnancy. Binge drinking in early pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. Light drinking during pregnancy carries basically no risk, but moderate to heavy drinking in pregnancy, and especially heavy drinking, can result in foetal alcohol syndrome. That's bad and should be avoided.

Pregnant women, for way too long, have been told that there's no safe level of drinking in pregnancy. For some, that's just increased anxiety and made pregnancy a worse experience than it's needed to be.

Others took the message to heart and, fearing that they'd done something horrible by having had too much to drink before knowing they were pregnant, have sought abortions.

The main risk of drinking too heavily in the very very early stages of pregnancy is miscarriage: spontaneous abortion. Because the anti-alcohol establishment has convinced women that any amount of drinking is going to result in foetal alcohol syndrome, some women are seeking abortions in order to avoid the risk of miscarriage.

Via James Nicholls, I find this piece at The Guardian:
The day before I discovered I was pregnant with my son, I’d shared nearly two bottles of red wine with a good friend. It was more than three glasses or six units; I’d thus been binge drinking.
As the faint blue line of the white stick deepened in intensity, my mind raced back. Visions of midweek drinks followed by longer weekend sessions filtered through, and I was mortified. Weeks had gone by where I was ignorant of my pregnancy. Had I caused the foetus irrevocable harm? Luckily for me, I had friends who’d been in exactly my position. My worries were assuaged. I was told it would be fine; rather than fretting, I should enjoy this new reality.
Such guilt and anxiety is increasingly causing some women to abandon pregnancy altogether, in an unintended consequence of the amplified policing of pregnant women’s bodies. Britain’s largest provider of abortion services, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), warns that binge-drinking scare stories, hyped up by the media, are causing heightened levels of fear. The organisation reports that it is “regularly seeing women so concerned they have harmed their baby before they knew they were pregnant, they consider ending what would otherwise be a wanted pregnancy”.

I'd characterised doctors' advice on drinking and pregnancy as being the noble lie: that they know it's a lie, but they're scared of encouraging risky heavy drinking in later pregnancy by saying light drinking's ok. The lie isn't noble. It is doing harm. Please stop.

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