I am mad! Maybe more than a little, in fact. I read an article on the net that concerns a review on studies of binge drinking. The article does not have a byline. A reader reading this article, does not know who wrote the article; and that is a shame, because it perpetuates a damaging myth! It would be nice to know who wrote it, because then they could be educated.
It states that people know drinking a large amount of alcohol often, during pregnancy, is known to cause health problems and learning disabilities for the child.
However, it also says that the review doesn’t clearly show that occasional, binge drinking while pregnant is problematic. It says that more studies are needed! Please!!!
Later in the article, it says something to the effect that, until we have more scientific “proof”, women who occasionally binge drink while pregnant should not worry over much. That is CRAZY TALK! See this: http://www.nofas.org/.
I live with the proof of what FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS can do to a child. I have adopted children who have been affected by binge drinking, while their birth mothers were pregnant. It is not a small thing.
Believe this, if you believe nothing else…it is damaging to the fetus in ways that are hard to comprehend. They may have learning disabilities, they can have physical deformities, they may have diminished IQ’s, they may have interpersonal problems from a lack of understanding social cues.
This being said…they are still deserving of love and family support no matter what. In fact, they need extra- ordinary amounts of love and support and more importantly, you need lots of understanding and patience. None of the problems they suffer from are their fault! That is important to remember… as some of their behaviors are challenging to the extreme; and at times, it seems as though their behaviors are a deliberate attempt to push you to your limits.
Those affected by FASD often experience legal troubles from not understanding boundaries. They may also have health problems for life. They may act inappropriate sexually, they may lie, manipulate, cheat, steal… all without understanding the consequences. They may have difficulties holding jobs later in life, they may abuse drugs and alcohol later in life to self-medicate; when their life feels out of control, and they don’t know what else to do to feel better.
They may have to take expensive (and dangerous) medications to help them get through a normal day. They may have ADD/ADHD. They may have explosive temper tantrums. They may not be able to live on their own due to safety concerns; because, unfortunately, they have a hard time understanding cause and effect of dangerous choices.
Those affected by FASD may get depressed, suicidal, or instutionalized in a mental health clinic or become jailed/ or imprisoned. When legal issues enter the picture, the damage can permanently limit any kind of an opportunity for living outside of the judicial/institutional system. Special care must be taken when advocating for those with FASD, who find themselves in legal trouble. Often the disorder is not understood…even by professionals.
Those afflicted with FASD often lack the ability to understand their legal rights; it could cost them their freedom, if they are not represented in a way that takes into consideration their lack of comprehension of cause and effect. For those affected by legal issues it would be wise to do your research. Here is a website that may be helpful: http://depts.washington.edu/fadu.
There are actually still doctors (not informed or responsible ones) in this day and age, who will tell a pregnant women that an occasional drink is ok. It is not ok, it is destructive; and, it is immoral to tell a woman differently. Organizations such as the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are committed to educating the public about the damage involved. There website is located at: www.nofas.org/.
The thing is, that babies in the womb are affected differently by the mother’s alcohol use…and it depends on the amount of alcohol and other factors; not to mention what stage of the pregnancy she is in when she drinks it, as to, how it will impact the growth and well being of the baby.
Is any amount of damage ok? I don’t think so. It can’t be predicted which negative result you will get when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnant. Any negative impact for the child is not worth the risk.
There is often shame involved for the birth mother once she understands the depth of the situation. She may have fear of being judged, when seeking medical help for herself or the child. She needs help and understanding as well as support. If alcoholism is a factor, then a local support group such as Alcoholics Annymous could be a wonderful support system for her.
Most importantly, there is a huge amount of ignorance to be overcome in order for us to prevent others from being born with these terrifying problems. For more information on preventing alcohol related birth defects see : www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1170.asp.
If we understand that permanent damage can be done…then, does it really matter how much damage, or what kind of damage? It can NOT be undone. The damage is for life.
A person reading this might say, oh, that doesn’t affect me; i didn’t, (or won’t), drink when i am pregnant. Consider that you could be wrong; it affects all of us in many ways.
Our taxes pay for people to get treatments; or, for those who are past treatments to be incarcerated. There are statistics regarding people in prison, who are affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), who were previously un-diagnosed. It is really overwhelming, when it is understood how much FASD affects us all.
Your son or daughter may end up in a relationship with someone who has been damaged by FASD. It could be your grandchildren who become affected by the disorder. It could be the person who assaults you on the street because they don’t understand right from wrong. You see what i mean? We are all affected by this crime against the unborn.
The sad thing is that the child has to live with the results for life…they pay the price of the un-informed or the ill-informed regarding drinking while pregnant. The child is punnished for the choices the parents have made. It is so very unfair. They are damaged and they often live their lives severely damaged. My sons suffer; they often don’t fit in with their peers. They suffer greatly…and it makes me think; “what kind of a life could they have had if not for this!” FASD is damage that can be avoided.
If you see a young pregnant woman drinking…don’t worry about being politically correct. Do it with respect and love…but, tell her how dangerous it is for the infant. She may just thank you later. I know the child would thank you, if it could!!!
Doctors, nurses , clergy, friends and family need to shout it out, that no amount of alcohol is safe while pregnant; or while trying to become pregnant! Here is another blog to check out for those affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: http://growingupspecial.com/ . Also, as a side note, I have moved this blog to: WriteWhereYouAre if you are interested in reading more of my blog posts!