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Health of mothers, babies, focus of alcohol review.

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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing


Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone: (02) 6277 4842 Facsimile: (02) 6277 8581

15 February 2007 CP10/07

Health of mothers, babies, focus of alcohol review

Ensuring the health of pregnant women and their children would form an important part of a new review of the national guidelines on alcohol consumption, the Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne, said today.

“It is important that we do all we can to reduce the risk of children being born with foetal alcohol syndrome,” Mr Pyne said.

“Children with this condition can be born with heart defects, developmental problems and a low birth weight. As adults they can experience developmental delays, learning difficulties and behavioural problems, and may be prone to mental illness.

“Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a problem that stems from a number of factors, including lack of education about the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant.

‘There is now a body of opinion that says the current standard for pregnant women - no more than seven standard drinks per week and no more than two on any one day - is too lenient. I have asked the review team to analyse the scientific evidence to see if a change is warranted.”

The review of the Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and Benefits is being conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The guidelines were first produced in 1996 and revised in 2001. They set standards for all sectors of the population on “how much is too much” when drinking alcohol is concerned.

The Chief Executive of the NHMRC, Professor Warwick Anderson, said regular revision of the Guidelines was necessary to keep pace with the latest research.

“These guidelines, as with anything the NHMRC does, are based on solid research evidence. We are fortunate in having access to the very latest research, and the best people in the country to analyse that evidence.”

The review will also examine: • the impact of alcohol use on the length and quality of life • addiction

• alcohol consumption and Indigenous Australians.

It will also look at health policy issues such as harm reduction programs. The review team will seek input from the community and health care practitioners through formal consultation later this year. Notices will be published on the NHMRC web site closer to the time.

The updated Guidelines will be completed by the end of 2007. Further details on the Guidelines are available on the NHMRC’s web site at

Media contact: Mr Pyne’s Office - Adam Howard 0400 414 833 NHMRC - Nigel Harding - (02) 6217 9350 or 0409 307 671