The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 19, 1986 · Page 28
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 28

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 19, 1986
Page 28
Start Free Trial

The Salina Journal Sunday, January 19,1986 Page 28 Alcohol consumed during pregnancy harms baby Personal health ByJANEE.BRODY N.Y. Times News Service NEW YORK - In the Old Testament, Samson's mother is admonished by an angel: "Thou shall conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink." In ancient Carthage, the law forbade bridal couples to drink on their wedding night. And in 1834, a report to the British House of Commons noted infants born to alcoholic mothers had "a starved, shriveled and imperfect look." But it was not until 1973 medical scientists confirmed what people seem to have known for thousands of years: that alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman can damage her unborn child. That year two pediatric researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle rediscovered and named fetal alcohol syndrome. At first it was thought only the offspring of heavy-drinking alcoholic mothers were at risk. Now it is known even as little as two drinks a week may do damage, and knowledgeable physicians recommend women abstain completely from alcohol from the moment they start trying to conceive until they are finished nursing. Even women who drank during previous pregnancies with no apparent ill effect on their offspring are cautioned against assuming that subsequent children will be similarly spared. So widespread and serious are the potential consequences of alcohol on the unborn child that Congress has designated a National Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Week. The goal is to make every woman of childbearing age aware of the danger and persuade her to refrain from alcohol for the sake of her unborn child. Despite educational efforts since the mid-70s, it is estimated 50,000 babies were born last year with permanent harm from prenatal alcohol exposure. Fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS, is a cluster of severe physical and mental defects caused by alcohol damage to the developing fetus. While the particular defects vary from baby to baby, these are the most common major abnormalities: • Growth retardation before and after birth, with no catching up later even if the baby is well-nourished. FAS children are typically small and thin. • Facial malformations, including small, widely spaced eyes; short, upturned nose with a wide, flat bridge; flat cheeks; narrow upper lip that lacks a vertical groove, and a blunt, small chin that may appear large and pointed as the child gets older. • Brain damage, including an abnormally small head and brain; mild to moderate mental retardation (I.Q. is usually 60 to 75); hyperactivity; poor coordination, and learning disabilities. • Abnormal development of various body organs, including heart defects; underdeveloped genitals in girls; urinary tract and kidney defects, among others. The full-blown syndrome is most likely to afflict the children of alcoholic mothers who drink heavily, especially early in pregnancy when the fetal organs are forming. From 40 to 50 percent of the babies of heavy drinkers are born with FAS. Most of the other affected babies, including many born to far more moderate consumers of alcohol, may suffer more subtle fetal alcohol effects. These include small size (again with no catching up after birth), reduced intelligence, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, eye and speech problems and sometimes organ abnormalities. During the newborn period, these babies tend to be restless, have sleep problems, cry often and uncontrollably and otherwise act in ways that could impair the mother-infant bond. A study at Emory University in Atlanta showed behavioral problems in babies born to women who drank as few as two drinks a week throughout pregnancy. The babies appeared more agitated and stressed, less in control of their bodies and less responsive to people and the environment. The behavioral defects persisted at least to one year of age and appear to be permanent. In addition, several studies have shown mothers who drink during pregnancy, even as little as two drinks a week, are more likely to have miscarriages and stillbirths. Several sources, including the American Medical Association in an excellent pamphlet, "Alcohol & Pregnancy: Why They Don't Mix," have made these observations and warnings: A pregnant woman is literally drinking for two. Alcohol readily crosses the placenta and reaches the same concentration in the fetal blood and body cells as in the mother's. Some of the most devastating consequences of alcohol occur during the early weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. Experts recommend women stop drinking when pregnancy is planned rather than waiting until conception is confirmed. Alcohol is nothing but empty calories. Even if it did not cause malformation of the fetus, it would be Even a single drink toward the end of pregnancy can temporarily stop "breath- Ing" movements by the unborn child. unwise for a pregnant woman to drink. She is better off consuming a nutritious liquid such as fruit juice or milk. There is no known safe level of alcohol intake during pregnancy. While alcohol's effects are clearly dose-related (with higher intakes associated with more severe damage), even a small amount of alcohol consumed at the wrong time may affect fetal development adversely. Fetal damage caused by alcohol cannot be detected prenatally through amniocentesis, so there is no way to find out before birth whether the fetus has been harmed. No form of alcohol is safer than another. Neither beer nor wine are less damaging than hard liquor. Even drinking before pregnancy may have an untoward result. Research at the University of Washington showed mothers who had about one drink a day before pregnancy tended to have smaller babies. Fathers' drinking, too, may have untoward effects. Men who drink heavily not only are more likely to be impotent but also have lower sperm counts and lower sex-hormone levels. One animal study showed when males were given alcohol before mating with alcohol-free females, there were fewer live births and the offspring were smaller. The fetal damage wrought by alcohol occurs independently of the effects of smoking, poor nutrition, poverty, illness and exposure to other drugs. Fetal alcohol damage seems to be permanent. No amount of good nutrition and postnatal care erase the growth retardation and brain damage. The effects of alcohol on a fetus are highly variable. Other factors, including genetics, clearly play a role. For example, in a case involving nonidentical twins, one twin was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and the other was much less severely affected with fetal alcohol effects. Many cases of prenatal alcohol damage go undetected. Experts estimate that for every child with FAS, at least 10 others have more subtle and often unrecognized alcohol- caused problems. Indeed, prenatal alcohol exposure may turn out to be a primary cause of learning disabilities and hyperactivity. Some of the distressing behavioral results in newborns can be averted if a woman stops drinking by the sixth month of pregnancy. Even a single drink toward the end of pregnancy can temporarily stop "breathing" movements by the unborn child. Coming Sunday, February 2nd 1985 1986 SALINA LOOKING BACK... ...LOOKING AHEAD The SALINA JOURNAL takes a look at 1985 and the developments for 1986 Our annual PROGRESS EDITION Something old Something new... 1986 Salina Journal S^" Bridal Edition 901 W. Crawford 827-3601 805 E. Crawford Specials Good Sun., Won. & Tues PEPSI, PEPSI FREE, MOUNTAIN DEW Regular or Diet 2 Liter Golden Ripe BANANAS $^oo For FOLGER'S COFF Shurfresh POTATO CHIPS Reg., Wavy or Bar-B-Q EE 3 Lbs. Last Week! Perm Sale! Stylish perms designed personally for you. Nova perm, reg. $ 40 now $ 25 Black Curls, $ 40 Cut & Style Included RGGIS HAIRSTYLISTS WALK-INS WELCOME Mon.-Sat. 9-9, Sunday 1-5 Mid State Mall 823-8448 X-TRA SERVICE GOLDEN GOAT Pays 15' Ib. for all aluminum cans 24 hours a day in west parking lot. Northern BATH TISSUE Coming Sunday, February 23rd If you want to be part of our special editions call the Advertising Department — 823-6363 PROGRESS deadline - January 21st, BRIDAL deadline - February 11 Trig-Journal THERESA VANCE Active and always on the go, Sacred Heart senior Theresa Vance's interests are many and quite diverse. Active in Student Council the past three years, she currently holds the office of Vice President and enjoys working with and helping people through her involvement in a variety of civic organizations. In her role as Red Cross Youth Committee Chairman, she works closely with the Salina Red Cross office and is the Bloodmobile Volunteer Chairman. Her membership in Key Club and Junior Civitans affords her the opportunity to help the community through voluntary efforts such as mentally handicapped babysitting and Special Olympics and she now holds the position of Junior Civitan District Secretary/Treasurer. Theresa's perfect 4.0 grade point average has won her several distinctions — National Honor Society, Kansas University Honor Student, and Who's Who Among American High School Students. She has received the 1 Dare You award for leadership and has been a cheerleader four years, head cheerleader the last two. A real sports enthusiast, Theresa is a 4-year tennis and basketball letterman, receiving Honorable Mention All City last year in basketball. During her freshman and sophomore years she participated in track and plays slo- pitch softball during the summer months. Next fall Theresa has plans to attend either Kansas University or Kansas State University to major in accounting. Her long term goals include becoming a Certified Public Accountant and owning her own accounting firm. The daughter of Paul and Ceceila Vance of 1210 Highland, Theresa is a dedicated and ambitious young lady who is sure to excel at whatever she undertakes. lerca c TheStaf-Spangled c BanJ(eiS Santa Fe at Iron, 825-0511 • Gold Star Facility: Ninth at Magnolia Member FD1C

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 11,100+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Try it free