Monday, 13 June 2011

Whose responsibility is it?

According to government statistics, 96% of women drink less alcohol once they get pregnant.

So why is there this 'tar with the same brush' mentality to making recommendations about alcohol consumption?

I'm certainly not negating the seriousness of fetal alcohol syndrome but I do think that the women who are going to drink to excess whilst pregnant will do so regardless of the governments well meaning guidelines. The vast majority, yes, safe to say, almost all women take a sensible view to alcohol drinking when pregnant if the figures are to be believed. In fact a third of that 96% actually give up alcohol entirely.

There's a part of me that thinks that the whole thing smacks of a nanny state, driven to reactive government styles. Women are more than capable of making these decisions. We are not defenseless, ill-educated dolls hanging about waiting for someone, anyone to please tell us how to look after our bodies and children because really we have no idea.

And what about drinks companies getting involved with the campaign? My feelings about the campaign itself aside (and which you are by now familiar with having read this far) I can't help but be confused by the British Medical Associations response to their involvement. They think its a bad idea owing to a conflict of interests.

I think its a great idea. In parenting I subscribe to the school of 'take responsibility and learn the consequences' in terms of behavior etc. In the main I find it works for me. If my kids chuck their toys all round the floor, they need to tidy them up again before they can play with another toy. If you save your pocket money you can buy something bigger... that sort of stuff, so yes, definitely. The drinks companies have contributed to the alcohol related ill health in this country so yes they should make a contribution in order to take some responsibility for that.

It's actually a great step forward. By making the contribution they are admitting some liability. For selling alcohol cheaply, for targeting young people etc etc.

There are however more vulnerable groups than pregnant women when it comes to alcohol abuse. It's time the government recognized the fact and directed its resources more constructively. To reduce under age drinking perhaps. How about banning alcohol adverts? It's just as damaging as smoking, so why the distinction?

If the government really cared about the health of unborn children, it would invest more money in excellent antenatal care, in funding routine Group Strep B screening, training more Midwives, providing some sort of insurance and infrastructure that allows the independent midwifery services to continue. These are the important things.

If Mr Cameron is looking to make cuts, he needs to be looking a bit more creatively than public services. Taking away the fundamental services that are used by the public who voted you in (oh help) is possibly not the way to guarantee a second term?
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