Esther Han 28 August 2018
Thousands of posters warning pregnant women about the dangers of alcohol have had to be removed from the walls of hospitals and GP clinics around the country.
Fairfax Media can reveal DrinkWise, a "safe drinking" group almost entirely funded by alcohol companies, recently withdrew 2400 pregnancy warning posters after doctors and health groups told it the message was "utterly wrong".
While the headline "It's safest not to drink while pregnant" reflected government guidelines, the text beneath, including the words "It's not known if alcohol is safe to drink when you are pregnant", was considered misleading and inaccurate.
Tony Bartone, president of the AMA, who raised concerns with DrinkWise, said the small print was "fundamentally incorrect" because the science was clear that alcohol had devastating effects on unborn babies.
"Alcohol is a teratogen, it can cause birth defects, so we couldn't understand why that messaging was there," he said.
"I told them about the misleading information and potential outcomes and they responded in a quick and timely manner."
Dr Bartone questioned how DrinkWise was able to spread "misinformation" in the first place and called for greater transparency.
"The message was utterly wrong. If it hadn’t been for our vigilance, it would have been blasted on the walls of GP surgeries," he said.