Guest Editorial: “Mommy don’t drink”

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – “Mommy don’t drink”

Submitted By Golda Swift (M. Ed)

“I can’t make a decision for myself, mommy, don’t drink.” This is probably the cry of every baby that is in a mother’s womb, while the mother is about to put an intoxicating substance to her mouth. Statistically proven, there is no guarantee that the intake of alcohol does not harm an unborn child.  On the contrary, it has been proven that unborn babies have been affected if mothers drink during pregnancy. Yet, there are many mothers ignoring these warnings and continue drinking during their pregnancy.  Also, doctors have advised if planning to become a mother, you should not drink.

This situation becomes a reality when children are in danger of being born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which has tremendous negative effects on a child’s physical, mental and emotional growth. Research has not indicated as to what percentage of drinking is safe; it is only recommended that there should be no intake of alcohol when pregnant. FAS effects the child from within the womb; causing poor growth, decreased muscular tone, heart defects, delayed development in thinking, speech, movement and social skills.

On the island of San Pedro Ambergris Caye, which is one of Belize’s top tourist destinations, there are many local bars and restaurants that sell alcohol. San Pedro’s culture is based on hard work, which may include: fishing, bartending, resort operations /management and restaurants career, amongst other means of livelihood, which stands to meet the demands of living on the island.  After a long day or week of work, one of the ways families entertain each other is by having a cold, local drink over lively, friendly conversation. This however, may lead to other problems which can be created within this type of atmosphere. Whether it is binge drinking or small amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, both have many negative influences within a community and could lead to the detriment of today’s generation of children being born having FAS or related effects. If the mother is an alcoholic and needs help, there is a place on the island that offers free counselling and assistance in overcoming this drug: Alcoholics Anonymous (627-1585).

From an educational stand point, there are many reasons that can retard the cognitive, mental or physical development of children. However, FAS is one of the sure ways that a mother can impair her baby’s development if she drinks during pregnancy. This affects the unborn child from birth to death, as there are no treatments that can be given to help that child. The child remains having low and slow thinking capacity, which is seen in his school work and activities. The brain becomes damaged, which could lead to mental retardation. The child is born with facial defects that are noticeable. Children born with FAS are left to struggle in life as they are unable to keep up with their peers. It is highly recommended that if a woman has plans to one day become a mother, she should not drink. It is especially recommended that she not drink during pregnancy. Doing this will have serious negative implications on the development of her unborn child.

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