Mother’s guilt over al­co­hol’s ef­fect

Townsville Bulletin - - Gig Guide -

EL­IZ­A­BETH Rus­sell drank al­co­hol while she was preg­nant with her two sons. She has re­gret­ted her ac­tions ever since.

The Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Foetal Al­co­hol Syn­drome Queens­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive is ded­i­cated to telling preg­nant women about the dan­gers of drink­ing al­co­hol.

Ms Rus­sell’s youngest son, aged 22, is con­stantly bat­tling the on­go­ing ef­fects of foetal al­co­hol syn­drome.

De­spite hav­ing a high IQ, Ms Rus­sell said he strug­gled with his judg­ment and de­ci­sion-mak­ing abil­i­ties.

‘‘He lives in­ter-de­pen­dently . . . at least twice a day I hear from him, I have to be con­stantly by my phone,’’ Ms Rus­sell said.

‘‘I don’t know how many times I have talked him down from sui­cide — it is a con­stant bat­tle, for him as well as me.’’

Ms Rus­sell’s eldest son is 25, and de­spite show­ing all the signs of foetal al­co­hol syn­drome as a tod­dler, has ended up able to live a nor­mal life.

But Ms Rus­sell said she would never know whether his IQ and abil­i­ties could have been bet­ter if she’d ab­stained from drink­ing.

Like Dr White­hall, Ms Rus­sell be­lieves ab­stain­ing from al­co­hol com­pletely while preg­nant is the only way moth­ers can en­sure their baby is not af­fected.

She said she did not drink much more than the seven drinks a week the Na­tional Guide­lines state is safe.

‘‘I don’t re­mem­ber drink­ing more than two or three drinks a night,’’ Ms Rus­sell said.

Ms Rus­sell said she dis­puted the view that it was the wo­man’s body and it was her choice.

‘‘You can’t put the mother’s rights over the baby’s,’’ she said.

She said the last­ing ef­fects of al­co­hol on a baby were ‘far, far worse’ than those suf­fered by drug-af­fected ba­bies.

Ms Rus­sell has writ­ten two books about foetal al­co­hol syn­drome. The sec­ond, Al­co­holandPreg­nancy:No BlameNoShame, is about to be re­leased.

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