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Reduce the risks of alcohol for infants


            Being a mom is not always something a woman chooses. Some sources say half of pregnancies are unplanned. The job is demanding, exhausting, requires nerves of steel, the patience of Job, and giving more when you feel your resources are depleted. But, it can be the most rewarding job you will ever do.

            Being a mom begins with being a mom-to-be. That tiny being will develop organs, fingers and toes, eyes and ears. And the baby depends on Mom for everything. It’s food and wastes pass through the cord that binds the baby to Mom. And if you consume alcohol while you are pregnant, your baby is consuming alcohol, too. And the baby is at risk of health issues that will result from drinking alcohol. Those health issues are lifelong. They will never go away. How will Mom cope with those health issues?

            Moms-to-be, are you listening?

            JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) reports on a study that found that one in every 20 first graders were affected by exposure to alcohol while their mothers were pregnant with them. One in 10 of these children may suffer disabilities because their mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy. The cited study was conducted by the Collaboration on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Prevalence.

            The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises that “10 percent of pregnant women report drinking alcohol and three percent report binge drinking, putting over 100,000 births in the U.S. each year at high risk for FASD.”

            To put that into perspective, that works out to 10 women out of 100 consuming alcohol while pregnant.

            Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are considered “hidden disabilities.” So many people, children and adults, have not been diagnosed. Stigma is thought to be a big reason for this. Outward signs of FASD may be so subtle you won’t notice them, but some of the effects may be impaired memory, learning and behavioral problems, and deficits in … control and self-regulation and … managing and controlling personal actions.”

            FASD is a group of conditions that can occur in a person because their mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. And these are forms of retardation that are completely preventable: Just don’t drink alcohol while pregnant.

            As inconvenient as it may be to curb partying while you are pregnant, an old proverb comes to mind: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You may think it will only happen to others, never to you. You may think one little drink won’t hurt. But there is no safe amount of alcohol. Is it worth the risks of lifelong health issues for your child?

            Knowledge is key.

            A few facts about FASD:

  • There is no “safe” amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant.
  • FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome, is the worst form. These children have a hard time in school and trouble getting along with others. Some of them die.
  • ARND, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. These children do poorly in school and have difficulties with math, memory, attention, judgment and poor impulse control.
  • ARBD, alcohol-related birth defects are problems with the heart, kidneys, bones or with hearing; possibly a mix of these.
  • These conditions last a lifetime. A loving, nurturing and stable home is needed, free of violence. These children are trying to cope with conditions that are beyond their understanding and consequences of someone else’s actions.

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