As an expectant mother, Melissa trusted her doctor and never thought twice about taking his advice. That’s why when a friend told her that drinking an occasional glass of wine during pregnancy was harmless, she promptly checked with her doctor to confirm whether this was true. To her surprise, her doctor said drinking one glass of red wine a day was fine and may even help to increase circulation. And so she did.

"Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and a range of lifelong disorders known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)."

“He never asked me how many drinks I have a day or if I binge drink. There wasn’t any dialogue,” she recalls.

A growing problem

When Melissa gave birth, her baby boy looked perfect. But as he got older, Melissa realized things didn’t seem quite right. 

“On his first day of kindergarten, the school called me because he had turned over all of the chairs that people, weren’t sitting in, turned over items in the kitchen area in the classroom and had thrown his shoes at the teacher,” she says.

Seeking help

Melissa and her son, now nine years old, continue on a journey to find the best possible care for him. Over the years, they have been to many doctors and counselors seeking a correct diagnosis for him. Because Melissa is aware of her alcohol use during pregnancy, she feels that this is the only possible cause for the behavioral and impulse control challenges her son faces.

Facing the facts

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and a range of lifelong disorders known as fetal alcohol spetrum disorders (FASDs). Behavioral and intellectual disabilities for people with FASDs include learning disabilities, hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, speech and language delays, poor memory, low IQ, difficulty in school (especially with math and social skills) and poor reasoning and judgment skills.

These issues are due to the specific type of brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. People born with FASDs can also have problems with vision and hearing, and problems with their organs including the heart and kidneys. FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not consume alcohol during pregnancy.