For any women out there who still think that drinking during pregnancy is safe, Smh.com.au recently posted an article which highlighted the danger of alcohol to a foetus from the perspective of an affected young man.
The article was about a young man referred to only as Jack whose brain was permanently damaged by alcohol before he was even born. Now 26 years old, Jack still suffers from the consequences of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) which has made him impatient, impulsive, with a short memory and attention span.
Even worse, Jack cannot comprehend what’s right and what’s wrong which has led to a life of burglary, drug dealing and assault, the fact that it is difficult for him to hold down a job (because of his attention, memory and learning problems) doesn’t help. Jack has spent a lot of time in jail as a result of his lifestyle which is a direct result of his mother’s drinking.
The article on Smh.com.au quoted a researcher who explained:
”Alcohol is our new thalidomide,” says Hammill, a researcher who co-ordinates the Collaboration for Alcohol Related Developmental Disorders at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research. Others describe the disorder as ”invisible brain damage”.
FASD is a lifelong injury that leaves sufferers much more likely to break the law, and to break it repeatedly, even after long jail stints.
According to research published in 2013 in the Journal of Judicial Administration, a lot of people with FASD are likely to fall into a life of crime, many while still children.
According to Professor Elizabeth Elliot, a paediatrician at Sydney University,
”A lot of the kids that are in juvenile justice, particularly in indigenous settings, may well be kids with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
”They find themselves in juvenile justice, or even imprisoned in some circumstances, without people recognising that these are children who are disabled intellectually.”
A federal parliamentary inquiry into FASD in 2012 called for the disorder to be officially recognised as a disability so that law makers, authorities such as police, lawyers, judges and prison staff would better understand and be aware of the disorder.
The article on Smh.com.au went on to explain:
A month before the 2013 election, Labor placed sufferers under the ambit of the national disability insurance scheme and announced $20.2 million for an ”action plan” over four years. Now responsibility falls to the Coalition’s assistant health minister, Fiona Nash. Asked whether the government would implement the plan, Nash replied: ”We are looking carefully at the action plan to ensure it addresses the many complex social and medical issues involved.”
Because it is not yet known what amount of alcohol it takes to cause damage to an unborn baby, experts recommend that expectant mothers abstain from alcohol completely during pregnancy. The commonly held belief that one drink now or then is acceptable is a myth, even one drink may be dangerous to the development and growing brain of an unborn baby.