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There is no Safe Drinking

Publishing Date : 18 February, 2019

Author :

Hello and welcome back! We trust you are enjoying learning about King Alcohol, its impact on our health and community as well as how to take care of your wellbeing.

According to WHO, there is no Safe Drinking, only Low Risk Drinking.

Today, we will talk about Alcohol and pregnancy as well as how the use of other substances may impact my chances of a healthy baby.  Most experts advise completely avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. There is a significant risk of birth defects related to use of alcohol during pregnancy. Heavy drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which stunts normal growth and may cause intellectual disability, malformations of the skull and face, and other problems. Moderate alcohol consumption may also be harmful, although this is a matter of some controversy. There is no known benefit of alcohol use during pregnancy.


What can happen if I drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy? Well, it can cause serious problems in your baby. Women should stop drinking alcohol and taking any illegal drugs before they try to get pregnant. This is important because:

●Even small amounts of alcohol or certain drugs can be harmful to a pregnancy. It’s generally agreed that they’re no known low risk drinking or drug use with pregnancy.

●Women do not always know they are pregnant for the first few weeks of their pregnancy.

Women who want to get pregnant should also consult a doctor or nurse about any prescription medicines they maybe taking. Some medicines are not safe during pregnancy.

If you drink alcohol during pregnancy your bundle of joy can be born with fatal alcohol syndrome (also called "FAS"). This condition causes brain damage and growth problems. Compared with normal babies, babies with FAS tend to weigh less, have smaller heads, and be very fussy. Their facial features may be characterised by skinfolds at the corners of their eyes, a low nasal bridge, a short nose, small mid-face, small eye openings, thin upper-lip, and an indistinct philtrum (groove between nose and upper lip). When they grow up, they have life-long problems in how they think and act.  


Indulging while pregnant can also make women more likely to have a "stillbirth, which is when a baby dies before birth, in the second half of pregnancy (after 20 weeks). How risky is taking drugs during pregnancy? That depends on which drug you take, when you take it, how much of it you take, and for how long. Not every woman who uses drugs during pregnancy has extra problems, but many women and their babies do.


The problems can also depend on other things, such as whether the mother smokes or drinks alcohol while taking drugs. Doctors do not know for sure exactly what each illegal drug does to a pregnancy or a growing baby. That's because it is a very hard thing to study. Women who use illegal drugs during pregnancy often use more than 1 drug, making it tough to know for sure which drug caused which problem They also tend to have other problems that might be caused by something other than drug use.


Despite these issues, there is enough good evidence to convince doctors that women should avoid all illegal drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. There is also good proof that the following drugs can cause certain problems:

●Heroin or other narcotic pain medicine: Use by pregnant women can be very dangerous for them and their babies. For example, they can get infections that could infect the baby. The babies can weigh less than normal or have a serious problem called "neonatal abstinence syndrome" when they are born. These same problems can happen if a pregnant woman takes prescription pain medicines called "opioids" or "narcotics."


●Cocaine: Pregnant women who take cocaine are more likely to have problems with the placenta. The placenta is the organ that forms between the mother and her baby during pregnancy. It brings the baby nutrients and oxygen and carries away waste. Using cocaine can cause the placenta to separate from the mother's uterus before delivery. This can be harmful for the mother and baby.

Babies born to mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy have a higher chance of being born too early (premature) or being too small. These problems can affect the baby's feeding, sleeping, breathing, vision, and hearing. Using other drugs, such as marijuana or methamphetamine, during pregnancy might also cause problems for the baby either at birth or later in life. More research is needed to understand how these drugs affect pregnancy.

What should I do if I am pregnant and already use alcohol or drugs? It is best to speak to your doctor or nurse. They can give you advice on the best and safest way to quit. If you use alcohol, heroin, or opioid medicines, stopping suddenly can be dangerous for you or your baby. Your doctor or nurse can help you get off alcohol or drugs safely, so that your baby can be as healthy as possible. As part of this process, you might need to take certain medicines. Your doctor or nurse can also put you in touch with counsellors or other people you can call for support.

If you are in any way worried about your drinking, there are resources in the community that can help.  You can learn more or get the help you need at Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (Bosasnet), for both alcohol and drugs. Gaborone HYPERLINK "http://www.bosasnet.com/" http://www.bosasnet.com/ Cell: +267 72659891, Tel: +267 395 9119/ 391 3490

For alcohol, contact
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Francistown: 73576244
AA Gaborone:     7232 0827
AA Palapye:         71240895
AA Mahalapye:     72846889

See you next week, still to come:
What about Alcohol, HIV and I?
Alcohol, TB and I?
Alcohol, NCDs and I?
By Team Holistic Health
 We acknowledge these RESOURCES

AUDIT-Guidelines for use in primary care-WHO   www.alcohol-phaseiv.com
https://www.uptodate.com
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/may/27/mothers-children-foetal-alcohol-syndrome-south-africa
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/foetal-alcohol-syndrome/

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