Let me share with you a little symbol that really, REALLY annoys me:
It appears on the labels of bottles of wine and beer, making it quite clear that pregnant women should not be drinking.
Now, I certainly don't advocate going out and getting lashed when you're pregnant. In fact this post came to mind after I read about a recent study which showed some of the harm done by binge drinking during the second trimester, but my question is this:
Why is this the only warning label on my Friday night beer?
There is currently no evidence that an occasional drink is harmful, it's clear that heavy drinking is a really really bad idea but exactly where the cut off lies is unknown and is likely to vary for every individual (the same could of course be said for driving after drinking alcohol). Official advice is to drink nothing or stick to nothing for the first three months then one or two units once or twice a week. But there is concern that exactly what constitutes a unit is a bit confusing and that some women won't be responsible enough to limit themselves, so best just stop them drinking all together.
Ok fine, there is some sense to that, there are always a few people who act like idiots, who are irresponsible enough to go out and get drunk despite the damage it could do and who don't pay attention to official limits.
So we have:
Don't drink anything if you're pregnant
But where is:?
Don't drink anything if you're driving
Don't drink anything if you're 14 and sitting in a park
Don't drink anything if you're likley to wake up next to someone you really don't want to wake up next to
Don't drink anything if you tend to get so wrecked that you end up wasting precious NHS resources
Don't drink anything if you might get aggressive and start fights
Don't drink anything if you have a history of going home drunk and beating up your partner.
Now I'm going to say it again, just to be quite clear: I don't advocate heavy or regular consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. But why is it ok to single out pregnant woman as the one group that need a special symbol to remind them of the dangers of alcohol? What about the brawlers, the pukers and the wife beaters? Are all pregnant women assumed to be more brainless and selfish than them?