precautionary-principle

Clone of Alcohol during pregnancy - narrative and media representation of the issues

Background

Advice regarding pregnancy-related health issues and lifestyle choices has been given for a long while, so in a sense there is no true start to this story. The issues discussed here relate to the previous NICE guidelines, issued in 2003, which advised caution, but not complete abstinence from alcohol, and which did not differ too much in style and content to the advice issued by the Department of Health at the same time.

Clone of Alcohol during pregnancy

What should be the official advice for women about the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy?

not a great start?On 11th October 2007 several news sources reported on the revised guidelines on antenatal care to be published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in March 2008. These guidelines were reported to advise that there is “no consistent evidence of adverse effects from low-to-moderate alcohol during pregnancy (less than one drink or 1.5 units per day) but the evidence is probably not strong enough to rule out any risk.”

Alcohol during pregnancy - the media narrative

Background

Advice for pregnancy-related health issues regarding lifestyle choices has been given for a long while, so in a sense there is no true start to this story. The issues discussed here relate to the previous NICE guidelines issued in 2003, which advised caution, but not complete abstinence towards alcohol, and which did not differ too much in style and content to the advice issued by the Department of Health at the same time.

Alcohol during pregnancy - the issues

What evidence is being used?
The Department of Health has, until May 2007, issued guidelines that are similar to those of NICE; the news story has arisen out of the fact that the DoH has changed the guidelines, while NICE has not. As O’Brian notes in the BMJ O'Brian2007, the new DoH advice does not rest on any new evidence, but merely on the reinterpretation of the risk associated with the already known evidence. Therefore this particular news story centres not so much on conflicting evidence supporting two different points of view, but on two different interpretations of the same evidence.

Alcohol during pregnancy

What should be the official advice for women about the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy?

not a great start?On 11th October 2007 several news sources reported on the revised draft guidelines on antenatal care that were to be published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in March 2008. These guidelines are reported to advise that there is “no consistent evidence of adverse effects from low-to-moderate alcohol during pregnancy (less than one drink or 1.5 units per day) but the evidence is probably not strong enough to rule out any risk.”

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