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Pregnancy: To Drink or Not To Drink?

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Guest blogger Maggie Vink: As I watched my son grow increasingly frustrated, I knew he needed my help. "OK, stop," I said. "Look me in the eye. Let's take a few deep breaths." After some eye contact and breathing together, he was able to calm down a bit. When I thought he was able to function again, I asked him another question. "Do you want something chocolatey, something sour or something fruity?"

wine glass
Making decisions and logically working through choices is an overwhelming task for my son. Even the simple act of picking out a treat at the store can completely stymie him. And having a problem making decisions isn't the only lifelong challenge my son faces. You see, his birth mother chose to drink while pregnant. As a result, my son suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He takes everything literally and has terrible difficulty understanding sarcasm and other nuances of language. He has essentially no grasp of cause-and-effect and needs to learn lessons over and over in many different ways before they finally set in. 

What's hardest to accept is that my son -- who should have been born without any issues at all -- will never be healed from these problems. At best, he will learn to understand and manage his symptoms. But Fetal Alcohol Effect (or Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, if you prefer) will walk with him, clutching his hand with a death grip, for the rest of his life. And it's all because his birth mother couldn't put down the glass

In the last few months, I've encountered articles showing that many pregnant women are indulging in the occasional drink. A recent study even suggests that light drinking might be beneficial during pregnancy -- that children of light-to-moderate drinkers might be better behaved and less aggressive than the children of mothers who abstained from drinking while pregnant. On the other hand, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome states that there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. 

I've never been pregnant, so I've never been faced with having to turn down a glass of wine during Thanksgiving dinner or having to toast a newly married couple with a glass of seltzer. But when I see my son's sometimes dangerous impulsiveness ... when I see him struggling to make the most basic of choices ... when I see his frustration and anxiety ... I just can't justify a mother having a single drop of alcohol while pregnant. 

Moms, what's your opinion? Is it OK to drink a little while pregnant, or should moms-to-be just avoid alcohol completely?


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