Advising pregnant women not to drink alcohol is now “sexist,” according to British experts.
Researchers at the University of Kent and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service are calling for the British government to end “alarmist” guidelines that advise women to abstain from alcohol for the duration of their pregnancy.
The researchers claim that the government’s policies are not rooted in scientific fact and end up “stigmatizing” women, according to the Telegraph UK.
Despite the fact that medical research shows that drinking during a pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome in a baby, the experts claim the government "needs to be honest” about the scientific evidence because its policies have "gone down an overtly precautionary route."
In fact, Dr. Ellie Lee, the director of the Centre of Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent, said the British government’s policy is so far-reaching that it’s become “sexist,” according to the Telegraph.
Public discourse has become very hostile and there is now an assumption that a pregnant woman holding a glass of wine is doing something absolutely wrong.
Women are being accosted, spoken to and started at in public. People assume that just because you have had one drink you’ve had a bottle of vodka for breakfast.
Though she doesn’t believe pregnant women must abstain completely from alcohol, Lee conceded that it’s nearly impossible to determine how much alcohol a pregnant woman can consume without adversely affecting her child.
Clare Murphy, a representative of BPAS, explained to the Telegraph there can be "real consequences to overstating evidence” of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
"Doing so can cause women needless anxiety and alarm — sometimes to the point that they consider ending an unplanned but not unwanted pregnancy because of fears they have caused irreparable harm,” she said.
It's not known how much alcohol pregnant women can safely consume, which is why health experts in Western countries advise pregnant women to abstain from it.
And it's likely that researchers may never know what the safe level of alcohol consumption for pregnant women is because, as the Telegraph notes, "it would be unethical to initiate wide-scale studies which compared the outcomes for children of drinkers to those of non-drinkers."