The CDC and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Mother’s Perspective
The CDC has angered a lot of women this week with its suggestion that women of childbearing age, who do not have permanent birth control in place abstain from alcohol. Their reasoning?
“An estimated 3.3 million US women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk for exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.”
This is About Biology, Not Women’s Rights
Women all over are up in arms about this sexist approach to alcohol and babies. After all (as I am reading all over the internet) where is the man’s responsibility in all of this? Why is it all on the woman? I have news for you, this is about biology, not women’s rights. Like it or not, women carry babies in their uterus, men do not. If I became pregnant today, my husband could get drunk every day of the pregnancy with no ill effects on fetal development. Me? One drink at the wrong moment in development could lead to a cascade of health issues for my unborn baby. Daily drinks would almost certainly lead to damage of some sort.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the #1 Cause of Preventable Mental Retardation
Did you know Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the number one cause of preventable mental retardation? Or to use more current terms, brain damage, and developmental delays? Put another way, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most common causes of mental retardation and is the only one that is 100% preventable. The effects are irreversible and last a lifetime.
The CDC is not trying to take away your fun. The CDC is not trying to repress you. The CDC is not trying to set feminism back a hundred years. The CDC is trying to keep babies from being brain-damaged. And it’s not just a lower IQ we are talking about.
Prenatal Alcohol Exposure is Scary
A report from Canada states that out of 400 individuals with FASD:
90% experienced mental health issues
60% had a disrupted school experience
60% had trouble with the law
30% had drug or alcohol problems
This topic is near and dear to my heart because my 13-year-old son suffers daily from the effects of prenatal alcohol. Nothing comes easy for him.
Myth: A Little Alcohol isn’t Harmful
Part of the CDC’s tough stance comes, I believe, from the still pervasive myth that “a little alcohol” isn’t harmful. I still regularly see people post in mother’s groups that their doctor or midwife recommended a glass of wine to relax or hold off pre-term labor. The myth is, a little is okay. You also don’t have to go far to hear or read, “I drank during my pregnancy and my baby was perfectly healthy”. Perhaps, but my son is not okay. He struggles to learn, he struggles to keep up with his peers, he struggles with social skills and emotions. He has a low IQ. He will never live up to his genetic potential. Never.
The statistics for a kid like him are positively grim.
This isn’t about women’s rights and feminism. This is about my son. About your children. About the next generation. No one is telling you not to drink. The CDC is warning you not to take any chances when it comes to drinking during pregnancy.
I happen to think our babies are worth it.
Resources on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
NoFAS: National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Washington Post: This Mother Drank While Pregnant, This is What Her Daughter is Like at 43.