Linda Hallengren, prevention consultant at Compass Pointe Behavioral Health, shared with Krissy Rodriguez, the effects that alcohol and drugs can have on a growing fetus as demonstrated by the Realityworks Simulator Dolls. The dolls are used by the agency to present to middle school and high school students the lasting effects drug and alcohol can have on infants. Not shown in the picture is the shaken baby simulator doll. That doll illustrates how quickly extensive damage can be done to a baby when shaken. (Photo submitted)
Starting with Mother’s Day, May 14, is National Alcohol and Other Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week. A time to remind everyone that pregnancy and alcohol/drugs are harmful to the physical health of the growing fetus. Of all the drugs, alcohol has the most lastly and detrimental effects on the development of a fetus. What a mother drinks — the baby drinks, and an unborn child lacks the mother’s ability to process or metabolize alcohol. This can lead to developmental and physical defects in the infant that will stay with the child for a lifetime.
Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders are the leading known cause of developmental disabilities in newborns, affecting physical, behavioral and intellectual abilities. It can cause facial malformations, growth deficits and central nervous system problems.
What is sad about FASD is it is one birth defect that is totally preventable.
Most women don’t even know they are pregnant until four or six weeks into the pregnancy. Any alcohol or drugs they have used by that time may already have affected the infant. It is especially important for women who are thinking about becoming pregnant to “adopt healthy behaviors before they get pregnant” (Kids Health 2016).
Problems associated with FASD tend to intensify as children move into adulthood. These can include developmental health problems, troubles with the law or judicial system and the inability to live independently.
According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, “There is no safe amount, no safe time, no safe alcohol, period.” According to the organization, “Play it smart. Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.