Call to halt alcohol warnings
RESEARCH which found the commonly held belief that pregnant women who consumed alcohol could be harming their unborn child were inconclusive has been welcomed by the operator of a Tweed winery.
Ilnam Estate Winery owner Mark Quinn is hopeful the findings would take the pressure off wine companies to label products with don’t-drink-during-pregnancy warnings.
The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found inconsistent guidelines for low-alcohol intake or abstinence during pregnancy were confusing for pregnant women and had little effect on women’s alcohol intake during pregnancy. Mr Quinn said negative images on wine would be detrimental to the industry.
“Personally I would hate to see those images on wine,” Mr Quinn said.”
“We spend a lot of time and money making our products look attractive, so the warnings will be a horrible thing.”
Lead author of the study, Jennifer Powers from the Uni- versity of Newcastle, analysed data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health from women aged 22-33 years who were pregnant before October 2001, when guidelines recommended zero alcohol, or who were first pregnant after October 2001, when guide- lines recommended low alcohol intake.
Ms Powers said the inconsistency of Australian alcohol guidelines was confusing for pregnant women and health practitioners alike and there was an overwhelming need for research to clearly establish the risks associated with different levels of alcohol intake during pregnancy.
“The effects of low-to-moderate alcohol intake on the unborn child are unclear, which leaves most pregnant women in a ‘no-person’s-land’ where guidelines are not backed up by clear consequences, and the guidelines themselves are poorly communicated,” she said.
“Whatever the research eventually shows, the current situation is untenable.”
Mr Quinn said he hoped the wine industry considered the latest findings before deciding on the implementation of health warnings on labels.