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Pregnant? Please don’t party too hearty


Have you ever seen a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)? Do you know what FASD is? What causes it?

            FASD is the one form of retardation that can be prevented by just saying no to alcohol use during pregnancy.

            “But everyone goes out to party!” you may say. “And it’s the holiday season. I want to party, too!”

            To drink or not to drink. That is the question.

            When you weigh the pros and cons of alcohol use during pregnancy, what factors do – or should – you consider? Is it worth abstaining while you’re pregnant, a few short months, when you consider what you might have to deal with down the road a piece? Is instant gratification really worth the risk?

            Some people do have to learn the hard way, stubbornly insisting that they won’t change anything just because they are pregnant. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Henry de Bracton (an English jurist born in 1268) was the first to say this, although Benjamin Franklin was given the credit for it. Considering consequences before taking actions can save you a lot of time, a lot of sorrow and heartache.

            The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises that almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned. “Most women will not know they are pregnant for up to four to six weeks.”

            Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes through the umbilical cord to the baby. It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or a variety of disabilities which are part of the fetal alcohol spectrum of disorders.

            Babies born with FASC may be smaller, low birth weight, and have poor coordination. They may be hyperactive or have a difficult time focusing their attention. They may have poor memories and struggle in school, especially with math. Learning disabilities, speech and language delays and poor reasoning or judgment skills may be problematic. Sleeping problems, vision and hearing problems or heart, kidney or bone problems may occur, to list just a few. The child probably won’t have all the problems, but there can be a mix of them.

            These problems never go away. They last a lifetime. There is no cure. There are some treatments but these require dedication and involvement in providing what the FASD child needs, things like an abundance of patience, no violence, special education and social services, and diagnosis before the child is 6 years old.

            In Ohio, the Help Me Grow program (phone, 800-755-4769) can help with early intervention for children younger than 3. If your child is over age 3 your local school district can help you start moving in the right direction to evaluate your child and determine what he or she needs.

            It is the holiday season. And there will be parties and gatherings to celebrate. But please, if you are pregnant, don’t use alcohol. You will want your child to excel in the endeavors and hopes you have for him or her, academics, sports, whatever those dreams are that you have. Please be responsible and give your child the best chance of that. Abstain from alcohol use during pregnancy.You’ll be glad that you did.

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