Warn mums of grog risk

Herald Sun (Australia) July 16, 2007
THE Federal Government is under mounting pressure to introduce mandatory health labels warning pregnant women off alcohol. The Drug Education Network is petitioning the Government to make the change, claiming fetal alcohol spectrum disorder costs Australia $13 million a day. Network spokeswoman Vicki Russell said liquor was putting the unborn at risk and barriers to reform should be overcome.”One of the major difficulties is the cultural acceptance of alcohol,” Ms Russell said. “We already know it’s toxic to unborn children.” The group wants new laws making it compulsory for alcohol bottles to carry warnings that consumption during pregnancy can cause birth defects. The network says research in the US has found clear links between birth defects and alcohol, with sufferers more likely to require mental health care or become caught up in the criminal justice system. The National Health and Medical Research Council is reviewing its safe drinking guidelines, with its recommendations due by the end of the year. St Vincent’s hospital specialist Dr Yvonne Bonolmo – a leading alcohol researcher – will ask the council to discourage pregnant women from drinking in her submission to the review. Dr Bonolmo said fetal alcohol disorder was a major concern among health professionals.