Today's print version of the Metro contains an article with the headline "Pregnant? It doesn't mean you have to stop drinking." Given the care my wife took not to drink when she was pregnant this headline caught my attention.
Research conducted by BJOJ (An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) has found that mothers can drink up to 12 standard drinks per week without it having an adverse affect on their offspring before the age of five. More alarmingly, it found that they can consume up to seven-and-a-half drinks in one go. The NHS defines binge drinking as: "drinking heavily in a short space of time to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol" and suggests that for women binge drinking is consuming six units of alcohol in a short time period.
However, later in the article it states that "the researchers still advised women not to drink while pregnant" and "despite these findings large scales studies should be undertaken to investigate the possible effects." In fairness, The Metro's report is well balanced but the headline itself concerns me. Commuters who saw it while scanning the paper (and not reading the full article) may now feel they (or their partners) have a green-light to binge drink while pregnant despite the fact the article itself effectively cautions against it.
I understand the need for papers to use attention-grabbing headlines but I do wonder if editors should consider unintended consequences in these sorts of cases? Or am I being unnecessarily harsh?
Read the online version of the article at: http://www.metro.co.uk/search?srch-grp=metro&q=health
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