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Don't drink alcohol while pregnant 

perinatal educator, San Luis Obispo

Abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy is not a “… polarized, puritanical view …” as Mark Jansen expressed (“Health department concern is unwarranted,” July 23) in response to the July 16 article by Kylie Mendonca (“Drinking while pregnant”). The article was not clear in its delivery of information.

Abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy will prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The neural growth of a fetus and infant starts at conception and continues through the first year of life. There is a reason our legal drinking age is 21: Alcohol has severe effects on the maturing brain and our society has protected our young by setting standards. Therefore, abstaining from alcohol while breastfeeding is advised, too. The public health department and other agencies are trying to educate the community and set a clear standard for our county.

With huge cuts in our state funding of education it would be wise to be proactive in our prevention of learning disabilities and strive to have children who can actively learn in a regular classroom. The article did not mention the economic impact of special education or lost productivity for children born with the effects of alcohol.

I would encourage the reporter to attend a Beginnings meeting and learn of our countywide collaboration of agencies that provide services to pregnant women. It is a collaboration of nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies, all working together to provide clear and accurate information on substance use during pregnancy. The organization does not focus on the .5 per 1000 or the 4.5 per 1000 incidence of disorders from drinking while pregnant but it is about achieving zero per 1000 by educating pregnant women about the risks of consuming alcohol and drugs.

It is important that clear, accurate information is given to our citizens so they can make the best decisions for themselves. Nine months of pregnancy and zero alcohol equals zero fetal alcohol disorders for our young.

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