FASD: The Effects of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a stressful time for all those involved. Hormones, relationships, and preparing for baby put a strain on your body and mind. During and after pregnancy, taking care of your health is extremely important not only for you but for your child. That is why it is so important to abstain from use of drugs, which can do serious damage to you and your child.

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Alcohol is a highly dangerous substance to use during pregnancy. It can have serious effects on your baby’s development and well being after birth. There is no determined “safe amount” of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. It is important that you have the facts so you can make the best choices possible for you and your child.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (or FASD) is a term used to describe a range of disorders commonly found in children with mothers that used alcohol throughout their pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), describes developmental, physical, and behavioural problems in children due to alcohol use/abuse by the mother during pregnancy. FAS is diagnosed by a team of healthcare professionals as the effects of alcohol on the child’s development can extend to several aspects. Some characteristics of FAS include: below average birth weight and height, thin upper lip, and function/structure abnormalities in the brain.

The diagnosis of FAS can occur before the age of 6, however, most children are diagnosed after the age of 6. There are many things that you as a parent can do to help your child if he or she is diagnosed with FAS. Seeking the appropriate medical attention and support is key in making sure your child can thrive. Making sure that she/he has the appropriate supports in school, daycare, and other care providers is also essential.

There can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with using alcohol during your pregnancy. It is important to be honest with your healthcare provider about any and all drug use during pregnancy. This honest can open up doors to treatment and recovery, as well as help you get connected to the right supports during your pregnancy.shutterstock_84089224

Abstaining from alcohol use during pregnancy is the only way to directly prevent FAS from occurring. There are several ways that you can abstain from alcohol use. They include: having people that support a sober pregnancy, removing yourself from situations in which you feel you may want to use alcohol, as well as seeking counselling and other programs that will encourage you to stay sober during pregnancy. Developing a support network that you can rely on is important not only for mothers in recovery, but mothers in general. Ensuring that you are doing everything in your power to stay healthy for you and your baby is the first step in becoming a successful parent.

Addicted at Birth: Children of Mothers That Abused Drugs During Pregnancy

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Purity. Innocence. Gift.

These are just a few of the many words that are used to describe children. However, for some children a lifelong battle for survival begins before they are born. There are debilitating diseases and gene mutations that can cause a child a great deal of pain and suffering. Some of these children are born to mothers that choose to abuse drugs during their pregnancy.

Now while we are all told that drugs will ruin our lives, we have only been given the reasons that affect us (malnutrition, addiction, infection, overdose, etc.). It is important to remember that when we abuse drugs, we are putting not only our own lives at risk, but potentially those of our unborn children.

Drugs cross our blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is how they produce the effects that they do. Drugs will also enter the placenta, and in turn the fetus, having harmful effects. In some cases, the drug is so addictive that the baby will become dependent on it before birth and need to be helped through withdrawal symptoms after birth.

Depending on the drug there are varying effects on the unborn child. These effects include:

  • Placental rupture
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Oxygen deprivation leading to low birth weight and/or brain damage
  • And if used frequently, serious birth defects

It is important to consult a healthcare professional throughout your pregnancy, especially if you are using/abusing drugs. Sometimes your doctor will put you on methadone until the baby is born to reduce the risk of miscarriage/placental rupture.shutterstock_135236594

When pregnant, it is important that you take care of your body not only for yourself but for your unborn child. While it may seem impossible, it is necessary to help ensure that you will have a happy and healthy baby. There are many programs that will offer support and guidance for pregnant women as they face a unique struggle.

Our future lies in the hands of those that come after us. In order to have a bright future, we must raise a generation in which strong morals and sense of purpose are instilled. Give your child a fighting chance to be a future leader by preventing and/or discontinuing drug use during pregnancy.