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Alcohol Consumption While Pregnant, Part 2

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September 24, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're continuing our discussion on alcohol consumption while pregnant. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Brent Fountain, Mississippi State University extension human nutrition specialist. Doctor Fountain, we've discussed before the dangers of consuming alcohol or using controlled substances or smoking of any kind while pregnant. Research does back this up, and this is research by the Center for Disease Control and also the American Center for pediatrics. And there's a wide range of research. Is there anything a woman can consume in the place instead of alcohol like tasty smoothies, juices, snacks to feel satisfied?

Dr. Fountain:  Well, I'll put it this way. Behavior modification is essential to success. The desire to stop the negative behavior or to store positive behavior has to be there. And that desire has to be strong. For most of us, there is a reason why we start with a behavior change. For the pregnant woman, this may be the success of the pregnancy and the health of the baby. So it's a prime time to consider stopping any negative behavior, and starting any positive behavior.

Second is critical to recognize those times of weakness. So whether ... If you say, "Well, when I go out, I have to have a beer." Well maybe you find an alternative to going out. Or, "I like to have a glass of wine." Maybe that's a time to to find juice or another substitute for that. You just want to make sure that you know those times where those opportunities present themselves and then avoid those. It's not going to be easy. So encourage those around you and this is really important to support your choice and your decision and to hold you accountable for those choices. Your support system can be incredibly helpful. Of course, if you're addicted to alcohol or other substances, you'll want to work with your medical practitioner and seek more intensive treatment options to help you with your pregnancy. But certainly being aware and finding a good solution, a helpful solution is going to be key.

Amy Myers: And does the same concept apply to smoking or using controlled substances while pregnant, and also marijuana or anything like that?

Dr. Fountain:  Unfortunately, it does. Again, since the recognition of fetal alcohol syndrome and FASD's, the impact of alcohol, cigarette smoke, and drug use has been observed in children, and unfortunately there are cases where the outcome is death, or longterm disability for the child and the effect on that family. In other cases, there are cases where the child is fortunate where there might just be mild disabilities or none at all. The problem is that while the child is in the womb and exposed to any amount of alcohol or other substance during pregnancy, we won't fully know the impact of that until after birth and diagnosis.

The CDC estimates that one in 20 US children, US school aged children, have or possibly have an FASD, and drinking while pregnant is going to cost the United States 5.5 billion dollars annually. That's a lot of money, so it's a huge gamble that a mother takes when choosing any risky or unsafe behavior while pregnant.

Amy Myers: Okay, so if I see a pregnant friend or a person I love, or even a stranger, smoking or drinking or using controlled substance in a restaurant or even a social event, what do I do?

Dr. Fountain: Well, that's a tough question. If it's a total stranger, you may want to ask yourself before you say anything is, "Will what I say change the behavior or will it just make me feel better?" As challenging as it may be, there may be little you can actually do or say if you find yourself in that situation with a stranger. Now, your response may be different depending on your relationship with that person. If you have a strong bond or a long personal history, of course you may be able to say more, and potentially have a greater impact on choices that she makes. I think it's always best to remember to be kind, be available, encourage them of course to talk to their healthcare professional for sound advice and to continue that prenatal care during the pregnancy.

Amy Myers: Do you have any a helpful resources on this topic?

Dr. Fountain: For the expectant mother, quality health care is the first and most important. There are few things that are more exciting than having the opportunity to watch that baby grow, to watch that baby develop throughout the pregnancy. So keeping those scheduled appointments during critical pregnancy milestones, will give the mother and the baby the best chance at a successful pregnancy.

If financial resources are a concern, programs such as WIC, the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, can provide access to important resources for not just the pregnancy, but for the infancy and first few years of life. If you have access to the Internet, you can look to valuable websites such as the Mayo clinic, CDC Centers for Disease Control and prevention, and the Mississippi State Department of Health, all of which provide a wealth of helpful and factually based information.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much. Today we've been speaking with Dr Brent Fountain, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University extension. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family, have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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