Awareness Does Create Change.
A woman was told she could have a glass of wine every now and then during pregnancy and she gives birth to a beautiful, seemingly healthy child who later in life develops a substance use disorder.
A man repeatedly loses jobs because he can’t “follow orders.” He never means to be noncompliant but ends up homeless and cycles repeatedly through the social service system.
A teen-aged girl doesn’t receive appropriate screening for alcohol use during her pregnancy and her child is found to have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Sadly, these stories are not worst-case scenarios. These are the common realities of people with FASD; of women who wanted to have a healthy child but weren’t given the basic help they needed before and during pregnancy. And sometimes, these realities overlap.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders present a wide range of lifelong effects that can occur in an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
A recent study estimated that 1,700 babies are born each day with an FASD. Sufferers are at high risk of growth impairments and developmental delays, intellectual disability, and behavioral disorders. They are more likely to experience difficulties in school, mental health issues, unemployment, drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness, and troubles with the law. Nearly all cases are incorrectly diagnosed and as a result will never receive treatment appropriate for an FASD, a major cause of preventable disabilities across the lifespan. The vast majority of all incidences go undetected, leaving too many suffering from the disorder and other consequences of misdiagnosis. An FASD cannot be “cured,” but it is preventable.
At any point of pregnancy, no amount of alcohol is “safe” for a mother or baby to consume. The alcohol passes through the mother’s blood to the baby. It enters the baby’s bloodstream and then can pass into all developing tissues. This is especially critical during the first trimester which is week 1 – week 12. Many women are not aware until well into their pregnancy and may continue to consume alcohol.
But awareness does create change!
Drinking rates among women drop considerably during pregnancy. According to SAMHSA “Among pregnant women aged 15 to 44, an estimated 10.8 percent reported current alcohol use, 3.7 percent reported binge drinking, and 1.0 percent reported heavy drinking. These rates were significantly lower than the rates for non-pregnant women in the same age group (54.7, 24.6, and 5.4 percent, respectively). Binge drinking during the first trimester of pregnancy was reported by 10.1 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44”.
If you or someone you know is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consider the facts above. The Women’s Recovery Center is one of the few gender-specific treatment facilities in Cleveland, with a focus on combatting FASD. It’s one the reasons we’ve successfully helped 584 babies arrive sober to the world. We have many services to help clients through the recovery process. Along with our treatment approach, we host a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous at our center and walk-ins are welcome to join, free, at any time. For more information visit our events page, or contact us today.
Written by WRC Volunteer Samantha Maloy.