Will a machine prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?
Is that even possible?
By Ella Rucker and Rene Syler
We’re tackling a tough topic in today’s GEM debate. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a very serious condition that affects 1-2 live births per 1000 in the United States. Experts say it is the most common cause of mental retardation and 100% preventible if the expectant mother doesn’t drink. Which leads us to this story.
A Minnesota pub is participating in a program by Healthy Brains for Children, an organization that tries to minimize problems caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. To that end, they have installed pregnancy test dispensers in the women’s bathroom of Pub 500 so female patrons can make sure they’re not pregnant before the party starts. But will it really make a difference? I’m not so sure.
First of all, it’s pretty clear (and one would hope, common sense) that binge drinking during pregnancy is bad, not only potentially causing problems for the baby after its born but even in utero. But most, if not all of these studies are referring to binge drinkers; women drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion. What about those who drink occasionally during pregnancy? The CDC says 1 in 13 women does. Because there is no clear, concise answer on how much is too much, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends expectant mothers abstain altogether.
Secondly, studies show that 17% of women between 18-25 and 13% between 26-34 reported binge drinking within the past month. So given that fact, do we think a positive pregnancy test in a bar bathroom will prevent a young woman from tying one one, especially if she has a habit of binge drinking? What if she’s an alcoholic? Will a little blue line change her behavior?
Rene and I tend to believe (backed up by our obstetricians) that a drink every now and then won’t hurt the baby but do maintain it is a personal choice. But this approach feels heavy on guilt and shame, leaving us to wonder if there isn’t a better way.
So what do you think? Is this just what the fight against Fetal Alcohol Syndrome needs or is there a better way? Would you take a pregnancy test in a bar bathroom and alter your behavior based on the results? Did you drink during pregnancy? Let’s talk about this.
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Ella Rucker is a mother of a two-year-old girl and the guardian of two boys. She is currently working on dispelling the myth that being a “stay at home mom” has anything to do with staying at home. Ella moved from Ohio to New York City twelve years ago where she is currently assisting the head GEM and proving that sticking your neck out just might help you win the race. She loves to read about the “mental laws” and seeing them work in her life, but her greatest joy is laughing madly and wildly with her daughter who amazes her everyday. You can also find her writing for mochamanual.com or by following her tweets @ellalaverne.