Expectant Mothers to Be Warned Not to Drink Any Alcohol; Sign of the Times: The New Label Bad Habits: Pregnant Women in Ireland Drink the Most in Europe
Byline: HELEN BRUCE
ALCOHOLIC drinks are to carry a health warning for pregnantwomen, it was confirmed yesterday.
Growing evidence that alcohol can harm a baby in the womb - even late into thepregnancy- has prompted the action by the drinks industry and health professionals.
The warnings will take the form of a circled silhouette of a pregnant womenwith a pint glass in her hand, and a diagonal red line across the image.
The warnings may be accompanied by a written warning.
Avril Doyle MEP, a long-term campaigner for women to be aware of the dangers ofdrinking when pregnant, gave a warm welcome to the announcement by the industrybody, Drinks Manufacturers Ireland.
'We've had a lot of debates on the subject,andonefigurewhich sticks in my mind is that figures for alcohol consumption duringpregnancy in Ireland are the highest in Europe - that's the galling thing,' shesaid.
'No one would ever wilfully do anything to damage their baby, but there is notenough knowledge around.
'I commend this move by the Irish drinks industry - at least it will alertpeople to ask their doctor about the risks.
'We have had a soft acceptance that moderation in alcohol is okay, but there isnow serious questioning of that by scientists.
'If this label is going to help women make a more informed health choice, thenI, of course, welcome it.' Drinking while pregnant can give rise to foetalalcohol syndrome. Children suffering from this condition can show signs ofbehavioural, intellectual and physical problems, including learningdifficulties, poor language skills, poor memory skills and subsequent troublesspringing from attention deficiencies.
Rosemary Garth, of Drinks Manufacturers Ireland, said the new labels, set to beintroduced by the end of the year, would give women better information uponwhich to make decisions about their alcohol consumption.
'We will be guided by Government advice on drinking in pregnancy, so if thatadvice is that it's better for women not to drink, then we will go along withit,' she said. …