Abortion fear in Aus over new alcohol guidelines

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Sydney, Nov 15 (UNI) Abortion rates are likely to increase due to new alcohol guidelines in Australia urging pregnant women not to drink at all, researchers warned.

Pregnant women may fear they have caused serious birth defects, even if they have only drunk in moderation or even on a single occasion.

Christine Tippett, president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said,''The 'zero tolerance' position proposed in draft Federal Government guidelines created alarm when adopted in other countries.'' Giving the example of Canada, he said specialists there have had requests from women to terminate their pregnancy because they were concerned they may have harmed their foetuses through alcohol exposure early in their pregnancy.

''That's a real concern because there is no evidence to support women doing that. It's extremely unlikely that a small amount of alcohol or a single case of binge drinking is going to be harmful to the foetus. We need to establish what is a safe level rather than saying you shouldn't drink at all because that does engender a great deal of anxiety,'' the Age quoted Dr Tippett as saying.

Jon Currie, chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council's guidelines committee, begs to differ, saying,''We're not trying to scare people, we're simply saying that not drinking is the safest option because there is evidence that even at low levels alcohol consumption can cause some harm.'' UNI

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