06/10/2010

Official advice: Ignore professionals

There's nothing like alcohol and tobacco to get the righteous going, especially when it concerns the children. The latest report on drinking whilst pregnant seems to have brought them all out:
Drinking one or two units of alcohol a week during pregnancy does not raise the risk of developmental problems in the child, a study has suggested.

..

A study of more than 11,000 five-year-olds published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found no evidence of harm.
Lets be clear, peer reviewed research, as we know from the AGW crowd is the be all and end all when it comes to research*, has found that pregnant women can drink one or two units a week without harming their children. But there's more:
The same result appeared, with no extra risk of behavioural and emotional issues compared with children whose mothers had abstained during pregnancy.

In fact, the children born to light drinkers appeared slightly less likely to suffer behavioural problems, and scored higher on cognitive tests, compared with women who stopped during pregnancy.
Hmm, could it be that having a drink relaxes the mum-to-be rather than being stressed out worrying that if a single molecule of alcohol passes her lips her child will turn out to be a two headed monster that terrorises the local playgroup?

Excellent news, don't you think? As the lead researcher says:
She said that women could make "better decisions" with this information.
Ah, but we are forgetting that the state' prodnosees know better than those professionals:
However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said that its advice would remain unchanged to avoid confusion among pregnant women.
Isn't that rather playing to the stereotype of pregnant women being too emotionally disturbed to make rational judgements? I thought we'd done away with that by making employers keep pregnant women on because the official line is that pregnancy makes no difference to a woman's abilities to think rationally. If they are saying it does then shouldn't we be worrying about all those women doing safety critical jobs?
"After assessing the available evidence, we cannot say with confidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe and will not harm your baby.
But we've just had a load of research saying its OK? If you have evidence to the contrary lets see it:
"Therefore, as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol."
Ahhhh, the great naysayer of all time that allows politicians and civil servants to avoid decision, the precautionary principle:
The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.
So you have to prove a negative to allow women to have a couple of units of alcohol a week, in which case why bother with this research in the first place? Unless of course they wanted it to prove their own prejudices? Because we know that the righteous are having a sustained attack on alcohol now that they think they've won their war on smokers:
This advice was backed by Chri Soreek, the chief executive of alcohol awareness charit Drinkawarre.

He said: "Despite these findings, it is important to remember that 'light drinking' can mean different things to different people.

"There is a risk that if pregnant women take this research as a green light to drink a small amount, they could become complacent, drink more than they think they are and inadvertently cause harm to their unborn child.

"Excessive drinking during pregnancy can carry serious consequence

Riiiight, because we've already established that pregnant women's brains turn to mush and they are incapable of thinking rationally. I wonder if Chris is going to feel the wrath of sisterhood for this one? I do hope so, there is nothing better than a cat fight amongst the righteous.




*It isn't, but we'll leave that aside for now.

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