by Gaetane Borders
As a child advocate, I normally write and talk about child abuse that happens postnatally. However, today’s blog post is a bit different because it will focus on prenatal abuse. The idea came to me after running across two different recent research studies about pregnancy and the affects of drug and alcohol use during gestation.
We all know that pregnancy can be really stressful with all the changes your body goes through, and with the constant worrying that the baby will be healthy. So why not take some of the edge off with a few glasses of wine. Heck…it could help dull the back pain you get in the latter months. Sounds crazy you say! Not according to a group of researchers.
In a recent study, they found that "Light drinking is fine, but heavy and binge drinking should be avoided." (Note to self….avoid binge drinking when pregnant. Oh yeah...and any other time!!!) Reports indicate that “pregnant women who drank one or two units of alcohol a week didn't harm their children. The scientific proof is that by age 5, children who were part of the study were still doing well -- able to walk straight lines and touch their noses with the tips of their fingers.” I can’t make this stuff up if I tried (sigh). Listen up people (said in my best School Psychologist voice), I encourage you to set the bar higher for your children. Sure, the kids in the research study were able to touch their noses and walk a straight line…but could they read and comprehend….recite the alphabet…..hmmmmm or ……speak coherently? I’m just saying...
Another research study about the post-natal effects of Methamphetamine (a.k.a Crystal Meth) has been discussed recently. Crystal Meth is a stimulant drug that wreaks havoc on the nervous system, causing brain changes that could cause anxiety, mood problems, and violent behavior. Researchers found that pregnant moms who use meth can also pass some of these behavioral problems onto their kids. Here’s my question….Did anyone ever doubt that there would be repercussions from using meth whether pregnant or not?
I consider the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy to be a form of child abuse because it harms children physically and intellectually. In fact, it can limit their potential even before they enter the world. Low birth weight, premature delivery, birth defects, learning difficulties, and infant withdrawal symptoms are just some of the problems that can happen.
So ladies, please put down the wine glass. The nine months will fly by before you know it. Though you may crave a nice glass of Châteauneuf du Pape, resist that temptation until after the baby is born. Moreover, any illicit drug use is undoubtedly going to affect your unborn child. Trust me…I work everyday with kids whose moms did not heed this counsel, and for those kids being able to touch their noses would, indeed, be a milestone. You might hear contradictory arguments about this issue. Some will swear that a glass here and there is nothing to get worked up about. But would you really want to chance it? Not this mom!
However, there is help out there if you are someone who struggles with drug and/or alcohol dependence. Please consult any of the resources below, or contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
American Pregnancy Helpline (866) 942-6466
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (800) 622-2255
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator (800) 662-4357
Peas In Their Pods, an organization that helps to spread awareness about missing children of color. She has dedicated her life to helping families and children, and is a noted child advocate. Gaétane often lends her expertise to various media outlets such as CBS, CNN, and FOX. In addition, she frequently contributes to magazines and newspapers.