This week I’ve taken some major heat from those desiring to educate on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder via several social medias after releasing my blog post, “Pass the wine? The study suggests moderate drinking in pregnancy increases mental health” which played Devil’s advocate by referencing supportive findings on both sides of the fence regarding consumption of alcohol in pregnancy.
I assumed this may receive some negative kickback due to the very controversial and sensitive topic. Perhaps even misinterpreting the message, marking the wrong enemy and arguing a doula’s attempt to present a full spectrum of evidence based research on the topic many parents are secretly, and not so secretly questioning, is against a moral and ethical responsibility to promote healthy pregnancy, births, and babies.
Without possibly reading the content, the blog became retweeted with hashtags stating it was incomprehensible and irresponsible providing misinformation. I thought to myself, “Gee, wouldn’t they want a pregnant woman considering an alcoholic drink to click on my blog post and then find they also have access to FACT SHEETS from the National Institute of Health to support the opposition as well?”
My references are from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health. American Academy of Pediatrics states, “There is no KNOWN ABSOLUTELY safe amount of alcohol” in pregnancy. The wording is referring to an absolute and a big question mark meaning they haven’t determined what it is or IF there is one.
Though one systematic review in 2007 of 40+ studies suggested babies were born healthy to women who admitted to consuming alcohol at a moderate rate (1-2 drinks per week) while pregnant, it has still remained the recommendation to abstain completely as scientists have not determined if or what threshold causes FASD. And wouldn’t it be unethical to push for determination in a controlled study? Yes.
There is also another systematic review of 21 studies which claims a link of alcohol consumption in pregnancy and childhood leukemia.
Most referenced documents pushed at me as a form of education were pieces from organizations with noble agenda because, yes, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder is indeed 100% PREVENTABLE. But they are agendas nonetheless. I completely and wholeheartedly sympathize with the angst and associated pain with being a caretaker to a loved one who is a victim of FASD.
The fact is some women will consume alcohol during pregnancy. Fortunately for some, not every sip has lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Spectrum Disorders.
I’m not here to shame anyone. In fact, I hope that any expectant woman would feel comfortable enough to ask me to help them find the evidence because they have or are considering indulging in that adult beverage and would like to make an informed decision on whether or not they will lift that glass. And the only way to have that level of trust is by offering nonjudgmental and compassionate support.
And that’s what the blog was all about – YOUR Informed Decision with a full spectrum of EVIDENCE and MY support.
Please do not use blogs to make important decisions about your body and baby. if a blog post peeks your interest look for referenced research links from REPUTABLE and UNBIASED authorities such as US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, Cochrane, World Health Organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics, etc. and research yourself.
I have made an informed decision to stop engaging with those who feel they need me to take their side because of their personal pain because, really, there is no winning in that situation. Their pain is truly difficult, real and heartbreaking – and anything 100% not for them is 100% against their reality. If only these adoptive parents had a doula supporting them in their lives… unconditional support.
As a professional birth doula, never offering medical advice and instead providing reputable evidence and unconditional support of women’s autonomy throughout pregnancy, birth, and parenthood without judgment is part of a Doula’s Code of Ethics. We trust every woman is fully capable of making the best decision for her and her baby.
My opinion doesn’t matter; PERIOD. My guidance to discovery for yourself WILL.
The statement of the amount of alcohol to cause FASD is unknown is directly from a reputable source: the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors and found directly on the National Institute of Health which states “Scientists have not established the minimum amount of alcohol needed to produce harmful effects in exposed children (Roebuck et al., 1999). Clearly, the safest approach is to completely avoid alcohol during pregnancy.” which can be found here: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/NASADAD/PrenatalBrief2.htm
A 2007 review (You may find at the US National Library of Medicine here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17233797)included 46 studies which assessed whether consuming alcohol during pregnancy led to problems in pregnancy or birth including miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction, premature, low birth weight or birth defects. It found no adverse effects on the child when the mother consumed low levels of alcohol during pregnancy.
Another review measuring similar outcomes – small fetus, low birth weight and preterm birth – found that consuming up to one drink per day had no effect on babies, but more than one drink a day did lead to increased risks for the baby across all three categories. (Still looking for my original source for this…)
One review concluded alcohol consumption during pregnancy led to negative outcomes for children. The review – which included a total of 21 studies – examined the association between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and childhood leukemia. It found at levels as low as one drink for a week, maternal alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia. You can find here at the US National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20447918