Pregnancy and alcohol don’t mix

  • Sep. 6, 2006 8:00 a.m.

Submitted by Lorrie Joron on behalf of the Healthy Communities Group-No safe time, no safe amount, no safe kind! That is the message we’d like everyone in our communities to know. Pregnancy and alcohol don’t mix and we’d like everyone to know why and how we can prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the leading cause of mental retardation in Canada and the industrialized nations of the world. We feel that our local communities are not an exception to this fact. We continue to see the effects throughout our community as people with FASD struggle to cope with their disability.
People with FASD are at high risk of learning disabilities, early school drop-out, youth in trouble with the law, drug addiction and alcoholism, property crimes, child and spousal abuse, unemployment and poverty. And yet, it is a disorder that is 100 percent preventable. Awareness, we feel, is the first step towards reducing and eventually eliminating this devastating plight on our communities. It takes a huge toll on our health care, education and justice systems.
We now know that mothers who drink during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy give birth to children with the most severe problems. As early as two weeks after conception the very tiny molecules of alcohol pass easily to the baby and baby doesn’t have a mature liver like mom to help detoxify alcohol in the blood, so the effects are stronger and last longer. Binge drinking, now defined as more than four drinks in one day, can create a brain that looks like it has been shot through with buck shot-scattered holes that affect whatever area that was developing at the time. However, the brain can be damaged throughout pregnancy and there is no “safe” amount of alcohol that a pregnant woman can drink. The damage is permanent and not reversible.
Most individuals with FASD have normal intelligence but have problems figuring things out, controlling impulses, regulating emotions, self-monitoring, dealing with abstract concepts like time and money, and with memory. We still see many children in our communities with these problems. These are skills and abilities we’d like all our citizens to have fully realized.
Our message is simple. If you are a woman of childbearing years and engaging in sex either:
o don’t consume alcohol at all if not using birth control or
o use birth control and prevent the tragedy of FASD from affecting another life.
This is not an anti-drinking campaign. We are simply trying to encourage women of childbearing age and their partners to drink responsibly.
Sept. 9 has been chosen as International FASD Awareness Day to signify the nine months of pregnancy during which a woman should not drink alcohol. We ask that everyone stop and think about this to recognize this day and find a way to support efforts to increase awareness of this issue at the heart of many of our community problems.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact the Healthy Communities Group: Leslie Bellis 626-3353, Karen Russ 626-3307, or Lorrie Joron 626-5587.

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