Since 2007, France has required all containers of alcohol to contain a warning about drinking during pregnancy. However, this label has only been noticed by just over half of female consumers, and the message is often misinterpreted.
- Only 66% of women said they noticed the warning label on alcohol containers
- Most women agreed that consuming alcohol daily could have harmful effects on the fetus
- Most women thought that one binge drinking episode could hurt the fetus
- When asked about the harmful effects of alcohol on the fetus during pregnancy, women responded that some of the potential consequences included: brain damage, limited growth/low birth weight, pre-term birth, and alcohol use disorders in adulthood
- Nearly half of women thought spirits were more harmful to the fetus than wine or beer
- Some women thought beer was encouraged for breastfeeding or lactation
- These misconceptions could be partly because of the fact that French media encourages wine consumption and its potential health benefits, unrelated to pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Women should be educated about what classifies a ‘standard drink’ and its alcohol content
- Using the words “beer” or “wine” instead of “alcohol” may show women that all types of alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy
- Using a real picture instead of an animation on the warning label may help women understand the potential reality of FASD
- In addition to information campaigns, other methods of education should be used at the community level and healthcare professionals should be involved
Although it is positive that France requires by law for every container of alcohol to contain a warning label against consuming alcohol during pregnancy, the understanding of these labels can be improved. The meaning of a ‘standard drink’ needs to be established for the general public, and different methods of education need to be explored in order to effectively relay evidence-based messages about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy to pregnant women or women who may become pregnant.
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Authors: Agnès Dumas, Stéphanie Toutain, Catherine Hill, Laurence Simmat-Durand
Journal: Reproductive Health