SUBSTANCE USES AND PREGNANCY
THE MULTIPLE WAYS OF DISSEMINATING INFORMATION
January 1989 the results of a study conducted by Ann Pytkowicz Streissguth were published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology. The study investigated the relationship of maternal use of drugs, alcohol and/or cigarettes during pregnancy on the IQ of her child at the age of four years. Newsweek and Scientific News also print articles later that year reporting the effects of maternal use of alcohol and drugs on the infant. They also looked at the effects of cigarette smoke on the fetus. Although the articles dealt with the same topic using information reported in the original study they differed in how they presented that information to their readers. All three publications varied use of methodology, use of scientific findings, and the presentation of the conclusion to meet the informational needs of their audiences.
IQ at Age 4 in Relationship Maternal Alcohol Use and Smoking during pregnancy was written by the group of researchers that group participated in a study lead by Ann Streissguth. This the original article is the actual research paper which was presented by the group. The paper tells how an original group of over fifteen hundred pregnant women was reduced to a select group of under five hundred. They explain how the condition of the infant at birth was not a factor in the study. It was their goal to define the long term effect of substance use during pregnancy. Further information shares how they followed the children in a longitudinal study at eight months, eighteen months, and four years. The group looked at a multitude of factors which included the toddlers learning abilities and the child’s IQ at the age of four. Of the three articles this one relies most on the use of methodology, scientific findings and presentation conclusion. In their paper they use the standard method of reporting research data. An abstract at the beginning of the paper gives a good summary of the content to follow. They present their hypothesis, do a literature review, define the group selection, explain the method of data collection, identify variables, analyze that data, present their results, discuss the findings and give references. As most research papers it counts heavily on use of numbers and scientific data to support any statement it makes about the subject. This is apparent in the use of many graphs and tables of data. The group concludes that use of such substance during pregnancy does have a long term effect on the child. The researchers warn that their study was limited and therefore should not be the rule. They advise Practitioners to caution Pregnant women not to take any chance with the unborn fetus. This is because of the effects that can occur with different amounts of consumption during various stages of pregnancy. Published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology the audience of the article would most likely be others in the field of Psychology or Medicine. Their need would be to know, in depth, all aspects of the study. Only with such complete information could they apply this knowledge in their practices. Therefore, this format would be the expectation of those readers.
The Science News article reaches a broader group of professionals in related fields of science. Drinking While Pregnant Risks Child’s IQ was written by B. Bower. The author reports on the same study described in the first article. This article was short and simple. It was written to inform it’s readers that the study existed and brief them on its findings. Bower includes enough data to discuss the validity of the study but relies more on a verbal explanation of the outcome to convey the message. Using an informative approach Bower did not draw any conclusion, but merely related the findings of the study. However by including the studies source of original publication Bower allows the inquisitive reader to seek more information if they want.
C. Leerhsen and E. Schaefer were coauthors of an article in Newsweek titled Pregnancy + Alcohol = Problems. This article was obviously written for the public to understand. The use of story telling at the beginning is to grab the reader’s attention. The authors explored literature dating back to