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Many woman who are well informed and have extensive life experience still don’t know that drinking alcohol in pregnancy may harm their children. Unborn children exposed to alcohol may be born with lifelong mental or physical disabilities known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Many women are not given this information by their doctors because they do not always have consistent information. It was only 2007 when the Department of Health changed their Guidelines: “Avoid alcohol in pregnancy or if you are trying to conceive”.
It is assumed that children with FASD are only born to alcoholic mothers. This is not necessarily true. The risks are greater if a child is exposed to alcohol throughout pregnancy, but some children can be affected by just one binge or a few episodes of social drinking. We know women with three children, two are healthy and the one child they were pregnant with over Christmas and New Years, when they drank socially, has FASD.
It is also true that all alcoholic women do not have children with FASD. Genetic and other factors play a part in the outcome.
What is FASD?
FASD is brain damage that can occur when the brain and nervous system are exposed to alcohol any time during the nine months of pregnancy. Heavy drinking can cause miscarriage and pre-mature birth. During the first trimester the facial features may be affected, the heart, the lungs and other organs may not develop properly. In the third trimester, when the brain and nervous system are in final development, it is believed that hyper-activity disorders, attention deficits, memory and learning are most profoundly affected. Children with FASD may not begin to miss milestones and exhibit delayed development until ages 3-7.
There is no way to predict who will be affected. Zero alcohol in pregnancy is the only way to be 100% certain a child will not be born with FASD Disabilities.
When I adopted my daughter she was a bright lively little toddler. I knew her birth mother drank during pregnancy but had no idea that it would affect the rest of my daughter’s life. I watch my daughter struggle every day.
But her disability doesn’t diminish my love for her. She has a wonderful personality. I am crazy about her and think that, maybe, I love her a little bit more because she is vulnerable.
Posted by Susan Fleisher on 18/08/2009 23:15:52
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