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Carolyn Strnad, Moorhead, Published August 31 2013

Letter: Expecting better means no alcohol

The big splashy headline “New pregnancy book says OK to wine ...” is misleading and only creates confusing messages for pregnant women. Emily Oster admits to being an economist and a mom, not a baby doctor, and that her purpose in writing the book was “really to write an approach that was right for me.” Certainly, the choice to drink while pregnant is hers, but the U.S. surgeon general, who clearly stated after doing extensive research that “no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy,” would ask her to “think again.”

In the article, Oster admits that The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not agree with her findings. In fact, they advocate that women who are pregnant should avoid alcohol entirely and that drinking alcohol while pregnant is the leading cause of mental retardation and a preventable cause of birth defects. In this age of Internet searches and media hype around books such as this, you will find sources that claim moderate drinking of alcohol while pregnant is not harmful.

Tell that to the estimated 8,500 babies born every year in Minnesota with prenatal exposure to alcohol who will face challenges every day in their learning, impulse control, attention, executive thinking, and the list goes on. Tell that to the countless parents and caregivers of these children whose hearts break for the “what could have been, if only.”

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a lifetime disability that is 100 percent preventable. If you are looking for accurate information, check out the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (www.mofas.org), national leaders in prevention work.

Perhaps Oster should write on the societal and economic costs of prenatal exposure to alcohol instead of a topic on which she clearly doesn’t have all the facts. Sending the incorrect message to pregnant women can lead to confusion. Confusion leads to heartbreak.