Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Medical texts lack direct messages on alcohol’s threat to pregnancy


Despite two decades of consistent warnings from public health authorities that pregnant women should not drink alcoholic beverages, the vast majority of widely used medical textbooks fail to communicate this message unequivocally, a new study reveals. Many texts, including those published recently, contradict these public health guidelines, researchers report in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Medical texts are used for training as well as for reference," observes senior author Mary D. Nettleman, M.D., M.S., from Virginia Commonwealth University. "In turn, training influences physician behavior. Therefore, it is concerning that many distinguished texts fail to provide clear and consistent recommendations about drinking in pregnancy."

Previous research has shown that alcohol consumption by pregnant women is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities, Nettleman explains. Yet when she and her colleague, Karen Q. Loop, reviewed 81 clinical obstetric texts in current use, they found that only 14 contain a consistent recommendation that pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Among the 29 texts published since 1991, only seven consistently recommend abstinence.

More than half of the 81 texts, Nettleman and Loop found, contain at least one statement condoning drinking. Although none of the 29 texts published since 1991 contains a consistent message that drinking is permissible during pregnancy, 15 carry a mixed message, recommending abstinence in one place and stating elsewhere that some level of drinking is permissible.

"Although tolerance toward drinking during pregnancy may be expected in older texts, such tolerance in recent texts was very disturbing," Nettleman says.

Mixed messages, Nettleman added, "are not appropriate because they leave the reader with the impression that abstinence is the official line but a foolish rule made to be broken."

Statements that condone "minimal," "occasional" or "moderate" drinking without defining what these terms mean — found in 22 of the 81 texts — also raise concerns for the researchers. "Vague terms such as [these] are detrimental, not only because they provide no concrete guidance, but because they may have vastly different interpretations according to the social norms in the patients’ (and perhaps physicians’) environments," Nettleman explains.

Some texts, the researchers found, skirt the issue by offering no guidance at all. Nineteen of the 81 texts discuss the topic of alcohol consumption during pregnancy without providing a recommendation, and five books don’t address the topic at all.

Nettleman and Loop suspect that the disconnect between what authorities and textbooks recommend stems, at least in part, from the fact that no safe level of drinking during pregnancy has been established. "[M]any textbooks, even recent ones, seem to have interpreted the absence of a ’safe level’ to mean that lower levels of drinking are safe and may be permitted," Nettleman observes.

Joe Kuttenkuler | EurekAlert
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>