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Alcohol + pregnancy = Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

05 June 2014, 09:17

Alcohol +Pregnancy=Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

I received an exciting email from one of our younger clan, “I am pregnant“. I was especially delighted for her as she had put children and commitment on hold for quite some years and had now just beat the physiological clock at midnight, so to speak.

Of course I emailed straight back how I delighted I was and added, not because she in anyway has an alcohol problem, “No Alcohol”. It was intended as kindly concern having been witness to some alcohol plus pregnancy mishaps. Straight away I received a return email, quite satisfactory in its way, but not quite what I expected, “Don’t worry, since the beginning I cannot stand coffee, sushi or alcohol”

Whew, sigh, all’s well that ends well!  The reply I would have been pleased to hear would have been something to this effect, “Don’t worry, since the beginning I cannot stand the stuff and my doc took time to explain to me how dangerous alcohol is during a pregnancy”. No such thing apparently.  

Just how dangerous alcohol is during a pregnancy was first rolled out in Nantes in France in 1968, but for some reason this French report never hit the headlines until medical colleagues in Seattle and the British medical journal “The Lancet “ took up the battle in 1973.  Somehow this insightful and ground breaking observation has not become “bread and butter wisdom” which every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane and Anne knows.

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is one of the most common causes of mental retardation. The USA, no leading light in this regard, where “Alcohol constitutes a leading, preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities” For all of you who are interested, go to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in internet, there are some nasty but informative surprises waiting for you.

We South Africans are a hard drinking nation. Many of our people experience great poverty and seek solace on drink, which does not improve things either. Being born handicapped is a lifelong sentence as adult independence is seldom achieved. Parents of handicapped children also face “lifelong” as their “child”, no matter how much loved, always remains a “child”, and that is so hard.

For any of you who think that the writer of this blog is some nut cased abstentionist, you are wrong. I do enjoy a glass of wine and occasionally a fine tot of whisky is just divine. So as lovely as a nice glass of wine /whisky is, alcohol is dangerous stuff and should be treated with caution. I just wish that more gynecologists and house doctors would spread the word.

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