Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

Understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Raising a child with developmental disabilities is a long road filled with challenges. It is best to have information and support to help you along the way.

Since March is National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, it gives us an opportunity to increase understanding about these disabilities, and to get the word out on support services that exist to help families. Equally important is learning how some disabilities can be prevented.

Developmental disabilities (DDs) include a wide group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. About one in six children in the U.S. has a developmental disability or a developmental delay.

DDs are diagnosed during the developmental period or before a child reaches age 18, are life-long, and can be mild to severe. They impact a person’s ability to function well every day.

Developmental disabilities is the umbrella term that includes intellectual disabilities (formerly referred to as mental retardation), which is an impairment in intellectual and adaptive functioning. For example, individuals with intellectual disability may have problems with everyday life skills, (such as getting dressed or using a knife and fork), thinking, understanding, reasoning, speaking and the overall ability to learn. See this fact sheet to learn more.

DDs also include: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fragile X syndrome, hearing loss, vision impairment, muscular dystrophy, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, among other disorders.

Developmental disabilities may be due to:

• Genetic or chromosomal problems
Premature birth
Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy
• Certain infections during pregnancy

However, in many cases, the cause is unknown.

Some disabilities can be prevented

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, learn how some disabilities and birth defects can be prevented.

Families need support

This blog series offers lots of resources – check out the Table of Contents for a list of what to do if you suspect your child may have a developmental delay or disability.  The series is updated every Wednesday.

You can also join our online community, Share Your Story, where parents of children with developmental delays and disabilities support one another.

In addition, here are a couple more resources:

The Arc: For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – For more than 60 years, and with nearly 700 chapters in the U.S., the ARC provides supports and services for people with disabilities and for affected families.

AIDD – According to their website, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities works to advance the concerns and interests of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through an array of programs funded under the Developmental Disabilities Act. AIDD is dedicated to ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families are able to fully participate in and contribute to all aspects of community life in the United States and its territories.

World BD day gets word out globally

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Sick babyThe twitter-sphere was all aglow yesterday for the first-ever World Birth Defects Day. In fact, 6,154,146 people were reached worldwide! Yup. It’s not a typo.

Twelve leading global organizations including the March of Dimes, along with scores of other foundations, hospitals, health care providers, government agencies, parents and individuals with birth defects took to Twitter to raise awareness. People in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, and individuals from all over the United States participated. As the day progressed, #worldbdday tweets continually popped up on my computer screen. In case you missed it, here is a snapshot of important messages.

Birth defects are surprisingly common

Did you know that every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the US?

In the US, about 1 in 5 babies die before their 1st birthday due to birth defects.

Birth defects affect 1 in 33 infants worldwide.

More than 8 million babies worldwide are born each year with a serious birth defect.

There are thousands of different birth defects, and about 70% of the causes are unknown.

The most common birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome.

In the US, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect every 15 minutes.

More than 300,000 major birth defects of the brain and spine occur worldwide each year.

Many birth defects are discovered after the baby leaves the hospital or within the 1st year of life.

More than 3.3 million children under 5 years of age die from birth defects each year.

Babies who survive & live with birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities & lifelong challenges.

Early intervention services may help babies w/ BDs; get your child help by starting early.

Birth defects are costly. Financial and emotional costs of birth defects take a toll on families and communities worldwide.

Learn how to decrease your risk of having a baby with birth defects

Taking folic acid before & early in pregnancy can help to reduce the risk for BDs of the brain & spine.

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of certain BDs. It’s never too late to quit.

We can’t prevent all birth defects. We CAN prevent FASD! (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)

FASDs are 100% preventable.

Alcohol can cause your baby to have BDs (heart, brain & other organs). Don’t drink if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Being overweight before pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects.

Not all BDs are preventable, but women can take steps toward a healthy pregnancy.

Make a PACT: plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk to your doctor.

Raise awareness

Awareness of birth defects & the importance of care for children with these lifelong conditions is key.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

March of Dimes has invested more than $50 million in birth defects research in the last 5 years.

Genetics has long been a main theme of March of Dimes research.

MOD grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects.

These discoveries pave the way for treatments and preventions for these birth defects.

 

For more information, email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

International FASD awareness day is today

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

FASD awareness dayFASDs or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, are a group of conditions that can happen to your baby when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy.

There is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and to your baby through the umbilical cord and can seriously harm your baby’s development, both mentally and physically.

Alcohol can also cause your baby to be born too soon or with certain birth defects of the heart, brain or other organs.  He can also be born at a low birthweight or have:

• Vision and hearing problems

• Intellectual disabilities

• Learning and behavior problems

• Sleeping and sucking problems

• Speech and language delays

The good news is that FASDs are 100% preventable. If you avoid alcohol during your pregnancy, your baby can’t have FASDs or any other health conditions caused by alcohol.

If you have been drinking alcohol during pregnancy, it is never too late to stop. Your baby’s brain is growing throughout pregnancy, so the sooner you stop drinking the safer it will be for you and your baby.

For more information about alcohol during pregnancy and how to stop, visit us here.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Chat on alcohol and pregnancy

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Alcohol chat

Join us for a #pregnancychat next Tuesday at 1 PM ET on alcohol and pregnancy. How much is really OK? What does your health care professional say? What does research show us? Get the real story.

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

no-alcoholToday’s guest post is from Dr. Siobhan Dolan, an OBGYN, medical advisor to the March of Dimes, and author of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Tomorrow I will drop my eldest daughter at college.  It is an amazing rite of passage and I hope she is happy in the next few years, making lots of friends and striving to reach her intellectual potential.

I don’t know a mother who doesn’t feel the way I do – that they would do anything to make life better for their child.

So as an obstetrician gynecologist, I am continually surprised when women ask me if it is okay to have a glass of wine during pregnancy.

The answer is really NO.

We know that alcohol is a neurotoxicant that affects the developing brain.  When consumed in excess during pregnancy, alcohol crosses the placenta and affects the fetus.  It has been clearly associated with a constellation of physical, mental and behavior problem in babies called fetal alcohol syndrome.  In fact, alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability.

We think of fetal alcohol syndrome along a spectrum, with smaller amounts of alcohol having a small effect and larger amounts having a more profound effect.  This is called a dose-response relationship and it has been demonstrated with regard to alcohol use in pregnancy.  So why would you drink even a small amount of alcohol and impart a small risk to your developing fetus?

Each woman is different in how she metabolizes alcohol, based on genetics and metabolism, and thus there is no way to establish a safe level of alcohol for every woman.  Therefore, March of Dimes is clear that there is no safe level of alcohol intake that can assure no effect.

So let’s use common sense along with science – avoid alcohol if planning a pregnancy and most certainly cut it out entirely once pregnant.  I think parents and doctors can agree that the benefits of a glass of wine are minimal at best and so the risk is just not worth it.

For more information about Dr. Dolan’s book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, click on this link.

The dangers of drinking alcohol

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

During pregnancy a baby’s brain and neurological system is developing and the bottom line is that you cannot drink alcohol. Dr. Dolan gives us some tips on how to avoid alcohol.

Still no safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

 

During my pregnancy, I have lots of family and friends who want to share thoughtful advice. I know people mean well, but it’s sometimes confusing when their thoughts conflict with what other family, friends, my health provider and even my gut say. Alcohol seems to be the topic that most of my friends and family differ. Some say the occasional drink is OK; others (including my OB) say absolutely NO to alcohol.

A recent series of Danish studies are adding to the confusion. The researchers looked at several studies that tracked women during their pregnancies and followed their children up to age 5. The Danish studies suggested that the women who took part in light drinking in early pregnancy may not have caused serious problems in these children. However, the researchers warn that much more research needs to be done because there’s still no amount of alcohol that is considered safe.

So while I’m pregnant with my second baby and have the occasional friend tell me it’s OK to have that glass of red with dinner every once in a while, I say to myself, “why take the chance?” The best gift I can give my baby is a healthy start in life. And if that means I have to pass on the sangria this summer, to me, it’s worth it.

 

Ask 9 questions before pregnancy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Nine months of a healthy pregnancy is the best gift you can give your future baby. There are things you can do before you get pregnant to help give your baby a better chance of a healthy and full-term birth. Talk to your health care provider before and during pregnancy about you and your partners’ health and any concerns you many have. This will help you have a healthy baby.

Before getting pregnant, ask your health provider these 9 questions.

What do I need to know about:
1. Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections or other health problems?
2. Medicines or home remedies?
3. Taking a multivitamin pill with folic acid in it each day?
4. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy?
5. Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs?
6. Unsafe chemicals or other things I should stay away from at home or at work?
7. Taking care of myself and lowering my stress?
8. How long to wait between pregnancies? (Ask your health care provider what’s best for you.)
9. My family history, including premature birth? Premature birth is when your baby is born too early, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Special thanks to the celebrities Thalia and Heather Headley for helping the March of Dimes tell women about these 9 important questions.

What about that glass of wine?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

wineThere’s a hot discussion on Twitter right now about whether or not it’s OK to have a glass of wine when you’re pregnant. Our friend @ResourcefulMom decided to “open that can of worms” and we’re glad she did.

Let’s start by stating the facts: There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink during pregnancy. Period. We say it. ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists) says it. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) says it.

Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects like fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), many do not realize that moderate or even light drinking also may harm a developing baby. An interesting article in TIME last fall   referenced a recent study that made several noteworthy points about the varying degrees to which alcohol can affect a baby.

If you’re drinking, so is your baby. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes through the placenta to her fetus. In the fetus’s immature body, alcohol is broken down much more slowly than in an adult’s body. As a result, Mom may feel fine but the alcohol level of the baby’s blood can be higher and remain elevated longer than the level in the mother’s blood. This sometimes causes the baby to suffer lifelong damage.

Binging is a big problem in this country. About 1 in 30 pregnant women report binge drinking (four or more drinks on any one occasion). Women who binge drink or drink heavily greatly increase the risk of alcohol-related damage to their babies. A 2008 Danish study found that women who binge drink three or more times during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy had a 56 percent greater risk for stillbirth than women who did not binge drink. Another 2008 study found that women who had five or more drinks a week were 70 percent more likely to have a stillborn baby than non-drinking women. Those are horrible numbers!

Yes, but you don’t binge drink. So what if your doc says one glass is OK? Well, what does he mean? How much is in one glass?  Have you seen the shapes and sizes of wine glasses lately? Some are small and look like a juice glass, others are enormous. Do you fill it half-full or all the way? If your doc specified, would you actually know what 4 ounces looks like in your glass?  The fact of the matter is that in this country where everything is super-sized we’re more than likely knocking back a great deal more than we think.

The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women do not drink any alcohol, including beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor, throughout their pregnancy and while nursing. And, because we often don’t know when we conceive, women who may be pregnant or those who want to become pregnant also should not drink alcohol. Our point is that if science doesn’t know if something is safe, considering what’s at stake, why would you risk it?   It seems best to stick with mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol awareness month

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

pregnancy-chicLots of women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, but many do not realize that moderate or even light drinking also may harm their developing baby. In fact, no level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe – none.

Many folks think that a glass of wine is good for your heart, which may or may not be true, but it’s not good for a developing baby.  Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a wide range of physical and mental birth defects. The term “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” (FASDs) is used to describe the many problems associated with exposure to alcohol before birth. Did you know that each year in the United States, up to 40,000 babies are born with FASDs? It’s such a shame because these problems are totally preventable – totally. It’s so simple, just don’t drink if you’re hoping to be or are pregnant.  Isn’t a healthy baby worth waiting a few months for that glass of vino?

We’ve given tips before about partying without the booze and offer different recipes for drinks.  We wanted to remind you of them during Alcohol Awareness Month. Take these suggestions to heart to keep your little one safe.