December 19, 2011
There have been plenty of mixed messages over the years about drinking a glass of wine while pregnant. However, in 2005 the United States Surgeon General issued a warning that women should not drink any amount of alcohol while pregnant. Unfortunately, the disease of alcoholism does not stop and wait for a mother to give birth before producing cravings for alcohol. According to the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network, there are at least 40,000 babies born per year with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant and suffer from alcoholism should seek alcohol addiction treatment immediately to decrease the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in their newborns.
When drinking while pregnant, a woman negatively impacts her health and the health of her unborn child. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) results in permanent birth defects due to the consumption of alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol passes through the umbilical cord directly to the unborn baby influencing abnormalities in the unborn child’s development. Under the umbrella of FASD, there are four distinct categories for alcohol effects on pregnancy: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Partial FAS), Alcohol Related Neurodevelopment Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD).
Each category under the umbrella of FASD has distinct features which help when assessing to determine the existence of any deficiencies from drinking while pregnant. These symptoms are considered primary disabilities.
With regards to diagnostic material, FAS has been researched the most. Clinical studies are being conducted by groups like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention so they can share more information regarding the other subtypes of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Development for a child who has FASD is difficult both on the child and the caregiver. These children are delayed in all central nervous system functioning. The primary disabilities create the secondary disabilities which are more relational and reasoning. Because of this deficiency the child will experience a high amount of stress/frustration and those who work with the child on a daily basis will have the same level of stress. Children with FASD may have the following secondary characteristics:
These are just a few of the characteristics that a child born with FASD will suffer from. These children have difficulty in school and some face possible alienation because of their different appearance. Parents and professionals who work with this population need extra training in how to work with FASD children.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest percentage of binge drinkers are women who want to get pregnant. CDC reports that women who binge drink are more likely to have sex with multiple partners, putting them at risk for pregnancy. It also documents that a woman who drinks alcohol regularly before pregnancy is more likely to continue drinking while pregnant. CDC concludes that women should be educated about the risks of alcohol consumption regularly from their primary care physicians.
When alcohol is consumed while pregnant, the damage done to the unborn child is irreversible. Knowledge of this is usually enough to deter a woman from drinking while pregnant. Unfortunately, the disease of alcoholism is not that simple. It must be put into remission and for most alcoholics this can only be accomplished in a substance abuse treatment program for alcoholism.
Women who suffer from alcoholism and are pregnant will need special attention during the alcohol detox process for the safety of their unborn baby and themselves. A quality comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment program will have an alcohol detox center and alcohol rehab at the same facility. For an expecting mother, being monitored by the same medical staff throughout treatment is extremely important for continuity of care.
24/7 all conversations are confidential