Parents’ Alcohol Habits Affect Kids’ Health
The CDC recently set off a maelstrom when it came out with an updated position on women and alcohol. New recommendations suggested that if a woman was even considering pregnancy, she should completely refrain from alcohol. It’s already known that even low levels of alcohol consumed during pregnancy has the potential to raise the risk of FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome, and FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Is even a small amount of alcohol really that dangerous during pregnancy? Do women also have to be so concerned about possible alcohol consumption right before, or in the early days of pregnancy?
Scientists are actually all pretty much on the same page, when it comes to this discussion. Data seems to show that indeed, alcohol is possibly the worst “drug” in terms of effect on the fetus. Current research seems to confirm that drinking during pregnancy causes FAS/FASD, and there is no safe level of consumption at any time. That means that if you get pregnant inadvertently or intentionally, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and no safe time during conception or pregnancy to consume alcohol. If you value healthy living, then a cornerstone habit might be avoiding alcohol if you are at risk of pregnancy or considering pregnancy.
Binge drinking is especially dangerous
When you binge drink you take in a large amount of alcohol quickly, which can blur your sensibilities. That means you may not be clear-headed enough to even think about birth control or the health consequences to your child, should you conceive during the binge. If you are a binge drinker, then you may be drinking for weeks before you actually realize you’re pregnant. Your child has a high risk of being born with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities directly related to your alcohol levels during conception and early pregnancy.
In theory FAS and FASD are “preventable”
Many kids born with FAS and FASD have problems with visual-spatial tasks, with executive functioning and they may have poor impulse control, problems with memory skills, and difficulty with their problem solving. As they get older, they often don’t have the ability to estimate consequences for what they do. They are at high risk for problems with the law and they can struggle in relationships and in simple day-to day functions. Kids can appear to be physically unaffected, despite the exposure to alcohol in utero, but they still may have cognitive and behavioral problems.
This is why the CDC took the unprecedented position of trying to intercept even the smallest risk of FAS and FASD, by commenting on the pre-pregnancy state. Experts felt the effort needed to go beyond “just say no to alcohol if you’re pregnant.” The truth is you may be pregnant and not realize it for a period of time. Certainly economic stability, good quality prenatal care, a healthy lifestyle can all help to minimize FAS. We do have to recognize the risk of the condition in young women and especially in certain at-risk groups.
It’s not just mom – dad is important too
Alcohol consumption by a partner may make it hard for a woman to cut back or eliminate her own alcohol intake. A male partner’s alcohol consumption may also contribute to the developing fetus risk for FAS and FASD because alcohol impacts sperm cells. Studies suggest that even if mom refrains from drinking alcohol, dad’s contribution may be enough to instigate FAS and FASD. National statistics suggest that one in twenty kids may be affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. So efforts to educate young men and women are crucial to limiting this preventable condition. Recommendations by your physician for healthy living should include a discussion on this topic during child-bearing years. The health of your offspring may depend on it!!
Also read: Fried Foods and Risk of Gestational Diabetes