13 Aug 2015

Officials flat on post-birth bubbles

1:09 pm on 13 August 2015

Public health officials are going to court today to try to stop an Auckland maternity hospital that offers parents of newborns a wine or beer with their meals.

Newborn baby

Photo: 123RF

Birthcare is a privately run hospital but it has a contract with the Auckland District Health Board to provide basic birthing services and post-natal care for women in the public system.

The birthing centre has long offered a wine with its dinner menu, which it is allowed to do under the licence it holds.

The Auckland Regional Public Health service is objecting to the licence, saying alcohol should not be offered to pregnant or breastfeeding women when there was clear evidence it could harm their babies.

It said under new alcohol legislation, licensing authorities must take harm minimisation into account, so the medical evidence should be considered.

Birthcare general manager Ann Hansen said the maternity hospital was not sending legal representation to court and would accept the outcome of the legal action.

If the court allowed the licence to remain, it would continue to serve alcohol.

Ms Hansen said in 2013, when the issue first arose, 3800 women stayed at Birthcare and just 155 mini bottles (187ml) of wine were sold.

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