Independent Journal reports on four women who drank alcohol while pregnant and how their children are doing right now.  Here is the full report.

Doctors have long warned women of the risks associated with drinking while pregnant, but for one reason or another, it doesn’t stop some expecting moms from doing just that.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently identified prenatal exposure to alcohol as the leading cause of preventable birth defects, such as intellectual and cognitive disabilities appearing later in life.

While you often hear this story told through a doctor’s perspective, here are four people who are living proof that drinking while pregnant can have life-long effects:

Rebecca Tillou

As the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome reports, Tillou was adopted at birth, but her parents say they suspect her birth mom was drinking while pregnant with her. While nothing was confirmed, she recalls getting ear infections as a child, not eating and not really talking to people in school.

It wasn’t until just recently that the 34-year-old was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which she says ‘makes total sense’ of her self-proclaimed ‘selfish’ demeanor:

I act selfish…a lot, which is part of fetal alcohol, because my brain will sometimes act like an egotistical child — like an eight or nine year old where I want what I want and I don’t really care about other people.”

Today, Tillou is a claims representative at an insurance company in Albany, New York. She’s married and has two ‘beautiful and very, very smart’ children.

Avery McHugh

Avery was adopted by his parents, Mike and Peter, at the age of three, but even then, his life before had been anything but ideal.

According to the Delaware News Journal, Avery had endured ‘severe neglect and abuse’ throughout his five foster homes, reportedly cursing and being restless at a very young age. As he got older, he was diagnosed with ADHD, but the medication wasn’t working.

Then doctors finally figured out he was suffering from FASD, and everything came into focus.

The now-20-year-old is currently working as a salesman at an electronic store, lives in a group home and sees his parents and girlfriend as much as he can.

Karli Schrider

Image Credit: Screenshot

Independent Journal Review recently reported on the life of 43-year-old, Karli Schrider, who has the ‘development skills of a first grader.’

Much like Rebecca, Karli had ear infections as a young child, which led doctors to believe they were the reason for her slow intellectual growth. As she continued to struggle with developmental issues, Karli was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

It wasn’t until her mom, Kathy, started learning about FASD as a certified addictions counselor that she realized Karli’s symptoms were comparable to the disease.

Kathy admitted to drinking while pregnant, which, at the time, was considered ‘safe’ for expecting mothers. Karli was diagnosed at the age of 16 with FASD.

In 1999, she received a presidential award for her volunteer work with the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Today, the 43-year-old likes playing with Hello Kitty dolls and colouring.

Image Credit: Screenshot

Annie Stanley

All Annie has ever wanted to be is a cheerleader. But for the 11-year-old from Texas, it doesn’t come as easy as other girls.

Annie has FASD and her adoptive mom, Cherie, writes on their blog“Giving Them a Voice”:

“An FASD child may wake up mad at the world for no apparent reason. I’ve learned to cope with this by counting her complaints. It tends to slow it down. Sometimes she’ll even ask how many. Lol. There is no trying to figure out that brain. She’ll be mad and yell/fuss all the way to the front of the school.”

But Annie’s not letting that stop her from cheering. Cherie claims her daughter works ‘twice as hard’ at practice to overcome some of the symptoms of the disease, and that she’s not letting it stop her from fulfilling her dreams.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost for just one person suffering from FASD is about $2 million, spent throughout their lifetime.

Between 2011 and 2013, one in every ten pregnant women in the United States reported drinking alcohol while carrying their child.


Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the FASD Prevention Conversation project.

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