Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Research flies in the face of common sense? Just because!

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by pro-pilot, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. It seems that if something does not align with our PC or political agenda then it must be wrong, heracy or treason.

    Just another interesting article to match our paranoia on man made global warming? :roll:

    While it is not conclusive 100% it shows that things as we are always told, may not awlays be the case.


    Binge boozing's 'minimal' baby harm

    Jill Stark, Medical Reporter
    November 14, 2007 - 1:08PM

    New research claiming binge drinking during pregnancy causes "minimal" risk to the unborn child has caused a furore in medical circles.

    The Oxford University study found that expectant mothers who occasionally binge drink, may not cause any long-term harm to their babies.

    "When pregnant women report isolated episodes of binge drinking in the absence of a consistently high daily alcohol intake ... the evidence of risk seems minimal," the researchers wrote in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published today.

    The findings could provide comfort to expectant mothers who have been on a drinking binge before realising they are pregnant.

    But health groups are furious, claiming the research sends a dangerous message to women already confused about conflicting advice on alcohol and pregnancy.

    The research comes just weeks after Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council released new guidelines warning pregnant women there was no safe drinking level.

    Previously women were told they could drink up to seven standard drinks a week without risking their baby's health.

    "I don't buy this nonsense that the evidence does not exist so drink up. The evidence does not exist so the safest thing to do is refrain," said Sonia Berton, chief executive of Arbias, Australia's only service for people with alcohol-related brain damage.

    "A foetus does not have a mature enough liver until week nine weeks - so how on earth is consuming alcohol safe?"

    The effects of sustained heavy drinking during pregnancy include miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and birth defects such as foetal alcohol syndrome.

    After examining 14 studies into binge drinking (five drinks or more in one sitting) during pregnancy, the British researchers concluded there was "no consistent evidence of adverse effects".

    There was, however, evidence that occasional binge drinking could cause brain damage leading to behavioural problems, learning difficulties and speech impairment. But the effects were "'generally quite small".

    Sue Miers from the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and Related Disorders said the effects described in the study were indicative of children with foetal alcohol syndrome.

    "These are not small effects," Ms Miers said. "Having a child that can't learn at school, that doesn't make friends easily, that doesn't understand cause and effect, is not a small problem, especially as it's with them for the rest of their life.

    "This research flies in the face of common sense."

    But Ron Gray, an Oxford University clinical epidemiologist who led the study, defended the research, telling Reuters: "Just because we haven't been able to find much evidence doesn't mean there is no effect. Our view is there needs to be more research."
  2. Re: Research flies in the face of common sense? Just because

    I can't locate this reseach to review it - it's not freely available yet.

    However, I'll be skeptical at this point that the rudimentary research of a student compared to the plethora of research with contradictory findings conducted by scientists sheds any new light on the subject of ETOH use in pregnancy.

    Try this at home - Get some fat off an uncooked steak. Put it into a glass of neat spirits. Go to bed and check it in the morning. Then tell me that bathing a foetus in the same stuff can possibly be safe.

    I think that article was a case of a Type I error - believing that the null hypothesis is not the case. It's a serious flaw in the research.
  3. So will you be passing your missus the scotch when she's pregnant? Or a cigarette?? Or maybe the crack pipe? :shock:
  4. Exactly my point. A study of multiple studys over time as of yet cannnot conclusively prove what we all think is common sense.

    So agreed that there needs to be much more study. But the common sense we apply has no basis in science or has quantifiable merit.

    It illustrates that we will always believe what we feel is right, not what sometimes could possibly be fact.

    Only time will tell.
  5. The common sense we apply is based in the highest level of evidence we have available to us, dependant upon the effect size of the results and the methodology of the studies.

    A Level 1 review of a limited number of primary research studies (14) from a worldwide database of available literature is poor methodology, thus any results from this must be viewed with caution. To challenge the current positive correlations derived from hundreds of randomised controlled trials conducted all over the world and suggest a null hypothesis is a research error on behalf of the student. Clearly they had some kind of bias in their research, be it selection bias or whatever.

    Meanwhile, there are credible results being obtained from people like the NHMRC in relation to alcohol effects on babies, and it is this research we should be looking towards.

    At the end of the day, ETOH can and does pass the placental barrier and science shows us what ETOH does to lipids and proteins, which is what a foetus is afterall. The fact that they do not have a functioning liver for the first few months of life, and then only have a rudimentary hepatic function for months thereafter, means they cannot metabolise ETOH, thus it remains a very damaging toxin to their development.

    I've seen FAS firsthand again and again in my work, and it is devastating to the child!
  6. Can you link to the studies and methodologies?

    The OP is certianly not fully sound, it raises questions around matters such as these. No doubt the methodology is constrained to a specific paradigm. But will need to see the publication when its available.
  7. Hey Pro-Pilot

    I have tried in the past to link URL's of full text articles and abstracts, but people say they cannot access them (I use my Uni account)

    Pubmed should allow you to do a search and freely access abstracts.

    From the NHMRC - Http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/_files/alc-comp.pdf, which has references to other high level research papers in it.
  8. Quoted from NHMRC (2001) Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and benefits available from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/_files/ds9.pdf page 77.

    When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol in her blood stream enters that of her
    unborn child, and it is known that, in sufficient quantities, this can cause problems
    for the child. One of the most vulnerable periods for the unborn baby is probably
    the first few weeks after conception
    (Coles 1994, Hannigan et al 1995), including
    the time before the woman is aware of her pregnancy.
    The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the physical and nervous system
    development of the foetus, and on behavioural development in the child, have
    received a great deal of attention during the past fifteen years.
    Drinking alcohol
    during pregnancy has been associated with varying degrees of harm to the unborn
    child. The most severe types of harm include gross congenital anomalies and a
    defined syndrome, the foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), both associated with high
    levels of drinking
    . FAS includes characteristic physical abnormalities, growth
    retardation and neurological dysfunction with developmental delay. Alcohol has
    also been associated with a variety of more subtle developmental effects.
    The research literature in this area is clear that alcohol consumption at high levels
    during pregnancy (ie at levels above low-risk guidelines for the general population)
    can contribute to a variety of adverse outcomes in the unborn child, especially
    where high peak blood alcohol levels are reached (ie if the woman becomes
    intoxicated),. At these higher levels of drinking, a general dose-response
    relationship has been established whereby the greater the amount of alcohol
    consumed , the greater the likelihood of injury.
    At least four main areas of harm
    have been identified: foetal death, congenital malformation, growth retardation, and
    behavioural deficits. Each one of these areas is associated with different toxic dose
    thresholds (Jacobson & Jacobson 1994): that is, levels of drinking at which the
    effects start to occurs
    . These effects have been demonstrated at high levels of
    consumption, but there are inconsistencies in the research literature pertaining to
    socio-economic class, cultural context and other maternal characteristics (Abel 1997,
    Day 1992). That is, social and personal variables also have similar effects on the
    child, and these effects are difficult to distinguish from the effects of alcohol. For
    example, women from lower socio-economic backgrounds whose overall health
    status may be compromised, smokers and older women all appear more vulnerable
    to the effects of alcohol on the foetus.

    The research evidence is less clear about the effect of alcohol when consumed at
    low to moderate levels (ie within low-risk guidelines for the general population)
    during pregnancy. The most likely effects at these levels, if effects occur (and the
    evidence is not clear on this issue), are functional teratogenesis (the production of
    congenital abnormalities in the developing embryo), and subtle neurobehavioural
    problems that are not associated with immediately recognisable physical
    Establishing a lower threshold for risk has proved difficult, and this
    difficulty supports the emerging evidence that the risk may differ for different
    effects. With respect to foetal malformation, a recent meta-analysis found no
    difference in foetal outcomes when the mother drank two or less drinks per day
    compared with drinking less than two drinks per week (Polygenis et al 1998)
    . But
    with respect to low birth weight and slowed inter-uterine gestational growth, studies
    have shown that these are associated with drinking at a level between three drinks
    per week and two per day (Windham et al 1995), and, in another study, drinking
    more than three drinks per day (Passaro et al 1996).
    Further highlighting the
    complexity of this area, Clarren et al (1987) have suggested that there is no single
    dose-response relationship for abnormalities in the foetus caused by alcohol, but,
    rather, that each potential abnormal outcome in brain structure or function, and
    growth has its own dose-response relationship and period of risk during pregnancy.
    Single et al (1999a) maintain that larger studies may be required to detect more
    subtle effects at lower intake levels. It is also theoretically possible that more
    sensitive instruments may be developed in the future, that could be capable of
    detecting harm at levels of consumption lower than the levels currently indicated in
    these guidelines.
    In summary: There is clear evidence that alcohol consumption at high levels
    during pregnancy (ie at levels above low-risk guidelines for the general
    population), and especially where high peak blood alcohol levels are reached (ie if
    the woman becomes intoxicated), can contribute to a variety of adverse outcomes in
    the newborn child. However, the evidence of effects on the foetus of drinking lower
    levels is less clear-cut. Attempts have been made recently to define dose-response
    associations and thresholds for drinking during pregnancy in relation to neurological
    and behavioural deficits in the child. Overall, the most consistent evidence to date
    identifies an average of one standard drink per day as the level below which no
    discernible evidence has been found for harm to the unborn child (Single et al 1999a).
  9. Pro-Pilot

    Here's a few abstracts of other primary studies looking at both chronic and acute effects of alcohol on the foetus.

    1: Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;163(6):1061-5. Links
    Binge drinking during pregnancy as a predictor of psychiatric disorders on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV in young adult offspring.Barr HM, Bookstein FL, O'Malley KD, Connor PD, Huggins JE, Streissguth AP.
    Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington Medical School, 180 Nickerson St., Suite 309, Seattle, WA 98109-1631, USA. hbarr@u.washington.edu

    OBJECTIVE: This study explored the extent to which the high frequency of psychiatric problems reported in clinical groups with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders might also be observed in a nonclinical group of young adults and the psychiatric conditions that are related to prenatal alcohol exposure in this group. METHOD: From a longitudinal prospective study beginning with interviews of 1,529 pregnant women, a birth cohort of about 500 newborns was chosen to include all of the most heavily alcohol exposed plus a sampling of the continuum of alcohol exposures from total abstinence through heavy drinking. At an average age of 25.7 years, 400 members of this birth cohort were administered valid Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV (SCID), including both the SCID for axis I disorders and the SCID for axis II personality disorders. RESULTS: The odds of the appearance of six psychiatric disorders and traits were more than double in adults exposed to one or more binge alcohol episodes in utero. Three of these six odds ratios were uniformly stable against confounding: axis I substance dependence or abuse disorders and axis II passive-aggressive and antisocial personality disorders or traits. CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal exposure to alcohol may be a risk factor for specific psychiatric disorders and traits in early adulthood, even in a nonclinical group.

    1: Alcohol Res Health. 2001;25(3):168-74.Links
    Drinking patterns and alcohol-related birth defects.Maier SE, West JR.
    Department of Human Anatomy and Medical Neurobiology, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas, USA.

    The consequences of maternal alcohol use during pregnancy on the outcome of offspring depend, among other factors, on the amount and pattern of alcohol consumption. Animal studies found that bingelike drinking patterns, in which the fetus is exposed to high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) over relatively short periods of time, are particularly harmful, even if the overall alcohol amount consumed is less than those of more continuous drinking patterns. Long-term studies in humans have confirmed that children of binge-drinking mothers exhibited especially severe cognitive and behavioral deficits. Binge drinking may be particularly harmful because it results in high BACs, may occur during critical periods of brain development, and may be associated with repeated withdrawal episodes.

    1: Alcohol Alcohol. 1997 Mar-Apr;32(2):113-28. Links
    The teratogenic effects of alcohol following exposure during pregnancy, and its influence on the chromosome constitution of the pre-ovulatory egg.Kaufman MH.
    Department of Anatomy, University Medical School, Edinburgh, UK.

    Much information has emerged over the years concerning the teratogenicity of acute and chronic alcohol exposure during pregnancy. Both alcohol and its primary metabolite, acetaldehyde, are teratogenic. Exposure during pregnancy may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), and this is said to occur in a substantial proportion of infants born to mothers who are chronic, heavy daily drinkers. Such infants usually survive to birth but are mentally retarded, often display growth retardation and additionally display a characteristic range of clinical features, principally craniofacial abnormalities and neurological damage. We have recently been interested in the effect of exposure of pregnant female mice to a single high level of alcohol during pregnancy, equivalent to an episode of 'binge' drinking, on the optic nerve, and believe that our findings, which are outlined in the first part of this review, may shed important light on the pathogenesis of some of the ocular features characteristically seen in infants with this syndrome. What is not generally appreciated, is that exposure to alcohol and other 'spindle-active' substances that have a similar action on the meiotic spindle apparatus during the menstrual cycle before conception can induce chromosome segregation errors in the ovulated oocyte. The successful fertilization of such eggs consequently results in the production of aneuploid embryos, which have a very high chance of being spontaneously aborted during the first trimester of pregnancy. Those relatively few aneuploid conceptuses that survive to term invariably show moderate to severe degrees of mental retardation, craniofacial and other abnormalities, as well as having a significantly reduced life expectancy. The findings from our experimental studies that have been carried out in mice draw attention to important principles which are of general applicability to the situation in the human. These findings, and our conclusions drawn from them, are discussed in detail in the second part of this review.
  10. As per above, the study said that drinking does not always, but definitely can, cause brain damage in a foetus. It is also just one study, and opposing the generally accepted viewpoint is a great way for a researcher with no useful new research to get their name in the paper. Journalists often misinterpret or deliberately skew research abstracts to make a controversial story and attract readers.

    Foetal alcohol syndrome is a clearly documented problem, there is no doubt that it exists.
  11. Yes, thanks. I understand these things.
    Pro-Pilot asked for some references, that was all.
  12. Well that sounds convincing..............
  13. Wasn't aimed at you mate, more intended for 'chicken little' :LOL: