It wasn’t the headline that raised eyebrows; it was the tiny text below it.
“It’s safest not to drink while pregnant,” the headline reads, echoing the consensus among public health organizations around the world.
But the next text, in much smaller type, left some room for interpretation about whether alcohol is safe for pregnant women.
“It’s not known if alcohol is safe to drink when you are pregnant,” reads the poster, copies of which were distributed by DrinkWise, an Australian organization founded and funded by the alcohol industry.
Public health leaders called out the organization over the poster’s message, which they said was inaccurate and misleading and undermined the body of research showing that alcohol, no matter the amount, is dangerous for pregnant women to consume. DrinkWise withdrew 2,400 posters from hospitals and clinics, the Sidney Morning Herald reported, and changed the text into something less ambiguous.
“A very important choice you can make for the health of your baby is to abstain from alcohol while pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breast-feeding,” the poster now reads.
Simon Strahan, DrinkWise’s chief executive, said the organization fixed the language after receiving a complaint from the Australian Medical Association.
“DrinkWise is committed to communicating the importance of women abstaining from alcohol while pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breast-feeding,” he told the Sidney Morning Herald.
Public health organizations around the world, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, have all said that no amount of alcohol, whether it be wine, liquor or beer, is safe for pregnant women. Drinking can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and lifelong disabilities, according to the CDC.
Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education, or FARE, in the Australian capital city of Canberra, accused DrinkWise of engaging in a campaign “to stave off the threat of responsible and effective regulation.”
“The warning needs to be on all alcohol products and needs to be blunt and to the point — ‘Do not drink during pregnancy or if you’re thinking of becoming pregnant,’ ” Thorn told the Morning Herald.
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