By Evan Dawson, Managing Editor
This is one of the most delicate subjects one can imagine, so when I set out to explore it, I knew I had to be thorough. The result is one of the longest, most exhaustive pieces of my career. It benefited from the vetting, editing, and guidance of many people in the journalistic and scientific communities, including NYCR Science Editor Tom Mansell.
Please understand, this piece is not meant to affirm or attack your position or decision on light drinking during pregnancy. (We know by now that heavy drinking is dangerous for developing fetuses.) I put the piece together for the online wine magazine Palate Press because I found the news media coverage lacking, to say the least. Here’s an excerpt:
A wave of headlines over the past several weeks has undoubtedly caused concern in many pregnant women.
Those headlines are based on a new study by a team led by Dr. Haruna Feldman at the University of California, San Diego concerning the effects of alcohol on a developing fetus. “Study: No Amount of Alcohol During Pregnancy Safe,” one headline reads. “One Drink is Too Many,” another declares. Those headlines are based on the Feldman team’s conclusion, which says, “Women should continue to be advised to abstain from alcohol consumption from conception throughout pregnancy.”
This is the third scientific study in the past two years that has generated headlines related to the effects of light drinking during pregnancy. Prior to these studies, very little research focused on such effects.
But the news media has not provided helpful analysis. A reporter for Medical News Today online wrote a story in October 2010 with the headline, “No Evidence that Light Drinking In Pregnancy Harms Children’s Development.” Fifteen months later, that same reporter wrote a story titled, “No Safe Level of Alcohol During Pregnancy.” Apparently it never occurred to this reporter that readers might appreciate a comparison of these two studies.
It’s an important comparison to make; multiple doctors have told me that women regularly ask if they should have an abortion because they had a drink or two before they knew they were pregnant. The reporting of these studies could similarly factor in pregnant women’s decision-making.
To read the whole thing, click here. We welcome your thoughts on the matter. Emotion can dominate this issue, but it’s important to keep discussion civil and focused on evidence.