|Womb to improve||Apr. 7, 2007|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DOCTOR GIFFORD-JONES|
It's an ideal way to write a column. I'm attending a medical conference while cruising the Caribbean. But don't think I'm goofing off. I'm spending long days listening to a variety of international speakers. But as a former ship's surgeon, I also love being at sea.
One speaker, Dr. George Carson, director of fetal medicine at the University of Regina, reported on the use of alcohol in pregnancy.
Some authorities have a simple solution for the tragic habit of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Dr. Christine Lock, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, says it's a myth that only irresponsible, derelict mothers cause serious birth defects. Her blunt message: "If we drink in pregnancy we place our children at risk".
He presented data that showed moderate consumption of alcohol during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is not associated with increased risk of fetal abnormalities, and that some studies show there is a benefit to having one alcoholic drink a day.
However Lock, Carson and I all abhor the effects of excessive drinking during pregnancy. To destroy yourself with alcohol makes no sense. Even worse, destroying an infant physically and mentally before birth is maternal madness. But year after year, alcohol-riddled babies are born suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Health Canada estimates that nine in every 1,000 babies in this country have some form of FAS and one in three of these babies will have the severe form, with wide-set eyes, thin upper lips, low birth weight and small head circumference. They estimate five ounces of absolute alcohol a day, or binge drinking, can cause this medical and social disaster.
Another medical catastrophe, reported by Carson, is substance abuse and HIV-infected babies. Today, women are the fastest growing group of persons with new HIV infections.
He cited a typical case: A 24-year-old woman seen in a hospital emergency department is agitated by a severely infected vein from repeated drug injections. Tests soon revealed she was pregnant, had HIV, hepatitis C, gonorrhea, chlamydia and had been using cocaine and marijuana.
Today, sexual activity is occurring at an earlier age. And "party drugs" such as Ecstasy are linked to unsafe sexual behaviour and HIV- infected babies.
It's tragic for mothers to be infected with the AIDS virus. But not to get treatment compounds the problem. Carson reported that 15% of all HIV-infected women receive no prenatal care in the U.S. compared to 2% of the general population.
What a disaster! The cost to taxpayers runs into the hundreds of millions. But what about these babies? It's ironic that anti-abortionists always cry about the rights of the fetus. But don't these same babies have rights?
Carson related cases of HIV women getting pregnant over and over again. Good sense dictates that there should be legislation that allows society to sterilize these women.
Surely children should have the right be protected from such irresponsible mothers. But it won't happen. No one in authority has the intestinal fortitude to even mention this possibility.
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