Women who are addicted to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy give birth to kids who are drunk and who might exhibit withdrawal symptoms after birth. The symptoms include trembling, crying in pain, clenching and struggling to breathe.
Dr Doris Kinuthia, a pediatrician at The Aga Khan University Hospital, describes Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as “the result of an expectant mother who is dependent on excessive consumption of alcohol.” She that, “Pregnancy is a delicate time for an expectant woman. It is usually best if she can avoid opioids and other drugs that can cause addiction. In fact, there are medications that they can’t use because such medicine can find its way to the baby’s bloodstream too.”
The doctor cites Thalidomide, a tranquiliser, as an example. The prescription drug is used against leprosy-related skin conditions and Crohn’s Disease. Thalidomide is not recommended for use during pregnancy and research has shown that the drug had serious side effects on unborn babies in the 1950s and 1970s when it was heavily used.
The membranous barrier – between mother and foetus – that blocks infections such as HIV doesn’t do much in keeping bhang,heroin and alcohol at bay.
Consumption of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy is potentially catastrophic for the foetus, says Dr Kinuthia.
“Side effects include babies born with severe deformities like small heads or small brains. Some have missing limbs, while others may be born without some body parts,” she says.
Expectant mothers should not indulge in alcohol, drugs or even smoke cigarettes, because their kids may be born with what doctors call Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
“Any pregnant woman who is addicted to drugs, alcohol or cigarettes should seek help at a rehabilitation centre immediately,” says Dr Kinuthia.
If an expectant mother gets high on alcohol, what this means is that “the baby will also get drunk,” Dr John Ong’ech of Kenyatta National Hospital once said.