Brian asked me to write another post about the littlest victims after this article came out in the Washington Post about the life of a woman who was affected by fetal alcohol syndrome.
Note: Karli Schrider is 43 years old, but she has the developmental age of a first-grader. Her mother drank while pregnant, unaware of the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
Karli sounds like a delightful person, but as her mother notes, what might her life have been if she hadn’t been affected by alcohol?
It’s a heartbreaking article because the mother acknowledges how her actions caused these problems. It’s also heartbreaking because the mother was as much a victim as her child. The mother drank throughout her teens because there were no adults in her life who cared and who alcoholics themselves. The upside to the story is that the mother is now in recovery and is a certified addiction counselor. She is also the vice president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She has taken her personal tragedy and is using it to better the world and prevent similar mistakes from happening to others.
The article notes,
In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that there is no known safe level of alcoholic consumption during any trimester of pregnancy. But, according to the CDC, 1 in 10 pregnant women acknowledge alcohol use — “a risk that doesn’t make sense to me at all,” says Kenneth L. Jones, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego who was co-author of the landmark 1973 study. Each fetus has individual risk factors, he continues, driven by the genetics of both parents as well as the mother’s diet, so it’s nearly impossible to determine how much alcoholis too much. “But why bother putting an amount on it?” he says. “Why risk your baby’s future?”
People too often think that addiction is a victimless crime. But, it’s becoming clearer that this isn’t the case. Children in utero are affected. And even if they are born healthy, they grow up in dysfunctional homes, and they are apt to repeat the tragedies of their lives on the lives of their children.
There are no clear solutions to the problems, but education is a first step that must occur along with adequate treatment that uses every tool available. If we are to have a healthy society, we must take care of the littlest victims. Addiction Is Not A Victimless Crime