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Seeing red over use of intoxicating wine studies




<em>Illustration: Kerrie Leishman</em>

Illustration: Kerrie Leishman

HARDLY a day goes by without the media enlightening us with some ground-breaking new research to guide us along the rocky road of life.

A recent one that caught my eye was the output from Bristol and Oxford universities in Britain that the offspring of women who consumed (''as little as'') two glasses of wine a week during pregnancy were (as much as) 1.8 IQ points less intelligent by the age of eight than peers whose mothers had abstained.

I can't help wondering how it is possible to prove that an eight-year-old would be (about) 1.8 per cent smarter if mummy hadn't been bingeing on two glasses of wine a week all those years ago.

Assuming this research is accurate and within any normal margin of error for IQ testing - which I would doubt - is it not possible that the drinking mothers are simply less intelligent than the non-drinking ones and genes are just doing what genes do? Are we to assume that mothers would respond honestly and without denial when questioned about their drinking habits while pregnant? Is it to be deduced that the more the mothers drank, the stupider the children became? Do the children of alcoholic mothers grow up to be research scientists? How much was Justin Bieber's mother drinking when he was in utero?

Today alcohol is good for us and tomorrow it's the devil's blood. Smoking rots your brain but can be beneficial if you want to concentrate for long periods or lose weight. There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, good fat and bad fat, good stress and bad stress. Some drugs are good for you, some drugs are bad for you (especially the illegal ones that don't attract GST). Exercise uplifts the mood unless the thought of the gym makes you depressed. Generally, sex is good for you but unprotected sex is bad unless you're married. If you're married, an affair can be good for the marriage or bad, depending on the context and whether or not you get found out. Mobile phones absolutely must cause cancer and we'll prove that if it kills us. And so on.

Why do I think that the people pumping out this stuff are funded based on the achievement of some sort of a result rather than its accuracy or relevance?

So, for all you pregnant women out there, may I suggest the following: keep knocking back the chardy and the strawberry daiquiris at mothers' group. You may be carrying the next Justin Bieber in there and it would be tragic if you deprived the world of that.

Tom Heaslip

HuffPost Australia

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