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Diageo to warn on drinking while pregnant

Diageo is to fund an initiative to alert mums-to-be about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The world’s biggest drinks company has pledged a “six figure” sum to fund training for 10,000 midwives, who will educate pregnant women about safe alcohol consumption.

It is the company’s hope that more than one million women will receive the training over three years.

The Department of Health-backed scheme will be run by the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).

NOFAS said the initiative aims to provide “useful positive health information about the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy to midwives”.

Diageo’s involvement is part of the DoH’s “responsibility deal” with the alcohol industry. The government wants the private sector to help pay for public information campaigns in exchange for not introducing new regulation.

The company’s funding of the initiative has inevitably attracted criticism from health bodies.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was concerned about “the drinks industry funding health campaigns because there could be a conflict of interest in some cases”.

A spokesman said: “If the drinks industry does fund a health campaign, it is essential that independent clinical advice is sought.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, chairman of Alcohol Alliance UK, added: “To really make a difference, education and information must be backed-up by tougher action on the price, availability and marketing of alcohol.”

Once again it seems that the alcohol industry cannot do much right in the eyes of its detractors, who seem intent on pushing to punish the vast majority of sensible drinkers to compensate for the irresponsible few.

Should Diageo be lauded for taking such a pro-active approach to education and promoting safe drinking habits during pregnancy? Would increasing prices really stop pregnant women from drinking? Let us know your thoughts below or by emailing

Alan Lodge, 15.06.2011

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