Many women unaware alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

Health Scan: Exposing a fetus to alcohol can cause developmental problems, retardation and attention-deficit and hyperactivity in the baby.

Alcohol 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Alcohol 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Less than a quarter of Israeli women are aware of the risk of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, according to a study conducted by pediatrician Dr. Yehuda Santzky and the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
In fact, exposing a fetus to alcohol can cause developmental problems, retardation and attention-deficit and hyperactivity in the baby.
More than 15 percent of the 4,000 women polled admitted to having drunk alcohol during pregnancy, while a third said they knew women who did so.
More than a fifth of the women surveyed said it was permissible to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Threequarters said they had not received any counselling about drinking while pregnant.
Santzky told the Knesset Anti-Drugs Committee that alcohol consumed before pregnancy harms the fertility of both men and women, and that a woman’s placenta does not prevent alcohol from reaching the fetus, which absorbs the same amount of alcohol into its bloodstream as its mother. An ultrasound scan of the fetus can show signs of exposure to alcohol – its upper lip is very thin, and there is no indentation under the nose. According to economic estimates, the lifetime cost of treating one person exposed to alcohol during gestation is NIS 1.4 million.
Committee chairman MK Muhammed Baraka expressed his concern about the study results and called on the Ministries of Health, Education, Internal Security and Welfare and Social Affairs as well as the Anti-Drug Authority to prepare a plan for its December 21 meeting to increase awareness of the risks from alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
The Israel-based ZAKA volunteer rescue and recovery organization has completed training of the first UK ZAKA International Rescue Unit, which joins a growing global network of volunteers in major Jewish communities in the US, South America, Russia, Ukraine, Europe and the Far East.
All members are trained and equipped to deal with any disaster or mass-casualty incident in their region.
ZAKA founder and chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav said his organization, which is recognized by the UN as an international volunteer humanitarian organization, wants to share its expertise with the global Jewish community so that we are able to better prepare ourselves for any eventuality.”
The intensive week-long workshop, led by International Rescue Unit co-directors Mati Goldstein and Dovie Maisel, included emergency medical response, mass-casualty triage and management, honoring the dead and basic forensics, in accordance with Jewish law, ZAKA case studies (Mumbai, Haiti and the 2008 Mercaz Harav terror attack) and a mass-casualty drill.
“In those first critical days after a masscasualty incident abroad, the local ZAKA volunteers serve as our ‘go-to’ team for their region. They can be mobilized at short notice and can work in cooperation with the local emergency services to save lives and stabilize the situation before the arrival, if necessary, of the ZAKA team from Israel.”
Israeli ZAKA teams helped out after major foreign terror attacks such as those in Mombasa, Istanbul and Taba) and natural disasters such as the tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This led the United Nations in 2005 to recognize ZAKA as an international volunteer humanitarian organization.
This UN recognition enables it to offer emergency assistance even before the official Israeli delegation has flown abroad or the host country has formally asked for help, or even when the country has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Volunteers from the ZAKA International Unit were the first Israeli emergency personnel to reach the Chabad House after its siege by terrorists in Mumbai, and the first Israeli volunteer team on the ground at the Haiti earthquake earlier this year.