Ok, the Daily Mail isn’t my favourite newspaper and this is one topic that will always be close to my heart (and the blog). That aside, a friend showed me an article from today on page 15.
In a nutshell, it is talking about the prevalence of children in our society who are affected at varying degrees by Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which is milder but still affects day-to-day living. They estimate about 1% of our children suffer from Foetal Alcohol to some extent, but that it really is the tip of the iceberg. It’s a fairly responsible article and explains how drinking alcohol is pregnancy can have far more lasting effects than smoking.
Lets have a look at what to watch out for with some basic signs and symptoms in your kids if you drank at all while you were pregnant:
FAS or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is the biggest cause of mental health problems and retardation in kids today. Not all children with FAS will develop retardation, and many may show up as behavioural problems. Those with the associated issues that are outside of the main FAS diagnosis tend to be missed or diagnosed with something else.
Some signs to look out for:
- Disruptive behaviour.
- Difficulty in understanding concepts. May learn to read & write easily, but struggle with comprehension of what it is all about.
- Generalisations, ie thinking of things in terms of black and white and often taking what is said literally.
- Shot term memory problems, ie ability to learn, but forgets very quickly and has to keep being reminded how to do things.
- Schools may think these children are just being lazy.
- Sugar cravings. Many parents of FASD children have noticed that their children seem to be addicted to sugary sweet foods.
- Conscience could be underdeveloped so may steal and lie without fear or consequence.
- Finds difficulty coping with new situations.
- May over-react to small changes in a daily routine.
- Seems more immature than their age in years.
- ADHD and ODD type behaviours which may not respond to traditional ADHD methods of management.
There’s nothing to be ashamed about in recognising what a child’s difficulties may have been caused by, so if you suspect it, get it checked.
It’s not easy to get diagnosed locally, and there are places to help.
Mencap NoFASUK – National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK
FAS Aware UK – Foetal Alcohol in Pregnancy & Forums
FASD Trust – For Parents and Carers – Information
To finish, all I can say is, that for the sake of your future children, if you are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, or think you might be, don’t drink alcohol – AT ALL.
It’s the only sure-fire way to ensure your children can have the best mental health start that they can, without the possibility of any Alcohol related brain damage.
Foetal Alcohol destroys lives. Don’t let it get into your family.