Not an alarmingly high rate

The Herald headline:

Drinking during occuring at ‘alarmingly high rate’

So what is this alarmingly high rate?

Up to 80 per cent of women in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Ireland have admitted drinking during the early stages of pregnancy, according to a new report.

Well if 80% of women were drinking during pregnancy that would be alarmingly high. But not the weasel word of up to.

The prevalence of drinking ranged from 20 per cent to 80 per cent of women in Ireland and between 40 per cent and 80 per cent in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Now it is from 40% to 80%. There is just one prevalence rate for NZ, so why not just give it?

Professor Lesley McCowan, the head of Auckland University’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, who contributed to the study, said 23 per cent of participants reported being alcohol-free when they became pregnant.

“Of the 53 per cent (1063) women who reported that they drank any alcohol in the first trimester, 917 (86 per cent) stopped drinking by six weeks of pregnancy. Stopping drinking is likely to have corresponded with having a positive pregnancy test. So the large majority of these Auckland women are likely to have stopped drinking as soon as pregnancy was diagnosed.

Now we get to the actual data. It is that once a woman knew she was pregnant only 14% of the 53% still drank. That is a 7.4% rate – not alarmingly high I’d say.

“12 per cent of women reported that they were still drinking alcohol when seen by the SCOPE research team at 20 weeks of pregnancy and 95 per cent of these women were only having 1 to 2 units of alcohol weekly at this time.

So 0.6% were drinking in an excessive way.

Obviously the ideal rates are 0%, but the actual data is very different to the sensationalist headlines and claims.

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