19 July 2004

Re: It’s Mummy’s Tummy. Sunday Star Times Magazine 18 July 2004.

Sarah Stuart points out that pregnancy is a time when life can appear to be out of proportion in more ways than one. However her rose`-tinted view of French pregnancy ’chic’ looks different through the lens of evidence. It was France in the 1960s that identified alcohol’s multiple adverse effects on the unborn. Some women do continue to ‘drink as normal’, some physicians do remain un-persuaded by the evidence but that doesn’t mean they are right. Ms Stuart is correct in restating that there is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. One small glass of bubbly now and again with food will not cause the catastrophic birth defects known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome but on the other hand the foetal brain is making 250,000 new cells a minute and alcohol can interfere with that process at critical times. It takes about one hour to rid the body of one unit of alcohol. You do the math. My hope for New Zealand cultural chic is where the complex and wonderful development in ‘mummy’s tummy’ is worth a little temporary inconvenience and leave the French to their own.

Yours Sincerely
Christine Rogan
Health Promotion Advisor
Alcohol Healthwatch