Women have the amazing privilege of caring a child into the
world but with this privilege comes a deep responsibility.
As the carriers of the next generation women have the
responsibility to ensure the children have as much of a chance as
possible. Today’s world is difficult enough to succeed in, yet when
a child is held back from his or her mother’s actions before birth,
the chances for success become even smaller.
While you may not be pregnant, or may or may not be thinking of
becoming so in the next few years, someone you know may be pregnant
now and needs this information today.
Besides seeking pre-natal care, there are two main instructions
while carrying a child:
Do not drink.
Do not smoke.
It seems to me these two simple actions that can save a child’s
life and/or health have no reason to be neglected.
Although many pregnancies occur unexpectedly, and therefore the
mother may drink or smoke during the early stages of fetal growth,
it is never too late to quit.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS),
11.4 percent of mothers smoked during pregnancy in 2002.
This adds up to every fifth fetus being exposed to active
maternal smoking and at least as many exposed to second-hand
smoking. This means about 1 million babies in North America are
born every year after exposure to smoking, according to
This exposure can do irreversible damage. The American Cancer
Society states women who smoke during pregnancy face higher chances
of delivering a stillborn baby, suffering a miscarriage or
delivering a low-birth-weight baby. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
(SIDS) also occurs twice as often in children born to smoking
mothers than those born to non-smokers.
While smoking may damage an unborn child, alcohol consumption
during pregnancy has similar, if not more severe,
According to NCHS .8 percent of mothers drank during their 2002
Damage done from alcohol is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS.
Children with FAS often suffer from learning disabilities, behavior
problems and may need constant care throughout his or her life.
Even one or two drinks during pregnancy, according to
www.alcohol.org.nz, may impact children’s learning. Some mothers
drink during pregnancy and experience no harm to her child, but
skipping the drinking is a much safer bet.
With these clear-cut facts available, smoking or drinking during
pregnancy is unacceptable. If a woman is not mature enough to
protect the life and/or health of her unborn child, then she is not
mature enough to carry a child.
Be mature and a good mother, realize you are the carrier of a
precious child. Give that child the best chance in this world;
don’t handicap him or her before birth.
And if your friend is pregnant and smoking or drinking, give her
the facts. Encourage her to receive help to quit drinking and/or
smoking and take responsibility for the tiny life growing inside of
If you need help, there are organizations out there ready to
assist you in making the right choice, so please make it now.
To receive help in quitting smoking call the Smoker’s Helpline
For help with drinking contact the Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Helpline at 1-800-234-0420.
J.J. is the design managing editor for the Collegian.