My Baby’s Breath Program – A Treatment Plan for Expectant Alcoholic Mothers

As an Expectant Mother, your Blood Alcohol Content is the Same as your Baby’s.

My Baby’s Breath Program is a self-administered breathalyzer program that is implemented for pregnant women who are using alcohol. It is a program that provides monitored support including incentives to help women abstain from alcohol while they are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

The breathalyzer works on the notion that the alcohol content of the mother is the same for the fetus while she is pregnant. A professional contact or other trusted, responsible adult determines the number of tests given per day to the mother, and daily and monthly reports are printed out to record the mother’s progress during pregnancy.

It was developed by Healthy Brains for Children, a nonprofit founded by Jody Allen Crowe, author of The Fatal Link and founder of Think Before Your Drink Program, which created the Pregnancy Test Dispensers to be placed in bars. Read more about My Baby’s Breath Program at this website:

http://www.healthybrainsforchildren.org/fetal-alcohol-education/babys-breath.html

BSTS Talk Show – FASD Awareness Day

What’s the best way to promote awareness about ND-PAE?

Join us as the BSTS interns discuss last years FASD Awareness Day, where they kicked of the condom campaign by passing out condom bookmarks at the Barking Dog Bar in Bethesda, MD. This was to promote awareness of the dangers of prenatal aochol exposure even prior to pregnancy recognition.

If you are planning a pregnancy, avoid alcohol, and if you are drinking alcohol, avoid pregnancy!!

BSTS Talk Show: APA Conference

On May 20th Dr. Rich, Dr. Parnell and intern Sydnie Butin presented at the 168th APA Annual Meeting. Intern Lauren Grenier, Brian Philcox and Bonnie Buxton presented on the panel discussion. The Better Safe than Sorry presentation by Sydnie Butin included how this project got started. Our main focus is prevention, this disorder is 100% preventable. She discussed how high school drinking habits are the starting point of later college and adult life drinking habits. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and Young Risk Behavior Survey from 2011 show that 45% of 9th graders binge drink, 50% of 10th graders binge drink, 58% of 11th graders binge drink, and 62% of 12th graders binge drink. One binge drink is considered to be 4-5 drinks in one sitting. If this many people binge drink at such a young age, it is less likely for them to decrease or change their drinking habits, as they get older.

Girls have the belief that they can “keep up with the boys” when they drink but this is false. Women have half the alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes than men do. So the blood alcohol concentration gets much higher, much faster. Alcohol has a similar half-life in breast milk as it does in blood. Therefore it is not only necessary to stay away from alcohol during the preconception period and the pregnancy period, but women should also stay away from alcohol while they are breast-feeding. We believe that women should avoid alcohol altogether rather than trying to predict when the alcohol is going to be metabolized. Would you put alcohol in your baby’s bottle? No. There is no safe amount of alcohol for a baby, therefore women should stay away from it at all times during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to impaired judgment, which can lead to unprotected sex and possible pregnancy. Keeping in mind the time difference between conception and pregnancy recognition, if you are one of those people who drinks to black out, your baby could get the full effect of the alcohol and receive irreversible brain damage.

To find out more about the APA Conference, watch our new BSTS talk show here:

Growing Recognition of Prevalence of Disorders Brought on by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Psychiatric News – American Psychiatric Association News
Just how prevalent is this epidemic?

In a study on the prevalence of the ND-PAE epidemic, Carl Bell, M.D., found that nearly 40% of patients seeking mental health care in Chicago had profiles consistent with ND-PAE, or Neurodevelopmental Disorder associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. This was found in a study with 611 adult and child psychiatric patients at the Family Medicine Clinic at Jackson Park Hospital, located in Chicago’s South Side.

Carl Bell attended our symposium that was given at the 2015 APA Conference in Toronto, Canada on May 18th 2015. At this symposium, Dr. Susan D. Rich, MD, MPH, was joined by Scott Parnell, MD, and Sydnie Butin, a fellow BSTS intern, as they presented on the various levels of the ND-PAE epidemic. Their presentations were followed by a panel in which Bonnie Buxton, author of Damaged Angels, and her husband Brian Philcox spoke about raising their adopted daughter with ND-PAE, and Lauren Grenier, a fellow BSTS intern, spoke about her time at a three-month stint in a Residential Treatment Center and her new perspective on ND-PAE.

To find out more about Carl Bell’s findings and the APA conference: read the article here.

“Prince George’s County Maryland – An Opportunity for FASD Awareness”

Last summer, local attorney Evan Wilson had a “light bulb moment” during Dr. Rich’s presentation in Prince George’s County, MD on June 20 about FASD and the law. Dr. Rich and two of the “BSTS change agents” met with him to discuss his perspectives about the role of the judiciary system in identifying and assisting individuals affected by FASD. As a juvenile delinquency attorney, he represents indigent minors in court who cannot afford to pay a lawyer. As Assistant Public Defender in PG County, he sees his job as educating the court about his client as a whole and not solely focused on a “snapshot” of the person’s life. Like the age old question – “Do we look at the crime or the individual?”, public defender Wilson sees the importance of making the court aware of challenges they face in their lives. “If you look at a person they are more than one event, they have a whole life behind them.” He emphasizes the importance of the right treatment protocol for a successful recovery to prevent recidivism (future delinquent acts).  He believes that further education and awareness in the PG County court system to be able to appropriately intervene in the lives of adolescents and adults affected by FASD.

The Guardian – Stop Treating Mentally Ill Children Like Criminals

The Guardian – Stop treating mentally ill children like criminals

This article highlights unthinkable social injustices and human rights discrimination against children and adolescents at their most vulnerable time – during a psychiatric emergency.  Individuals with ND-PAE are often misdiagnosed with or have co-occurring mental illness as a result of their neurodevelopmental disabilities.   When they do have need of inpatient psychiatric services, most are ill-equipped to treat their complex neurodevelopmental issues.  Because they have a hard time understanding consequences and avoiding peer pressure, they are at high risk of delinquent behavior and may end up in detention centers or jail.  There is need for more comprehensive, specialized programs and services for adolescents with ND-PAE and other neuropsychiatric conditions, not just warehousing them away from society.

Early intervention programs to identify exposed infants and toddlers with ND-PAE, as well as raising awareness about how early in pregnancy these problems happen (therefore primary prevention includes preconception health and family planning for alcohol users). Individuals with ND-PAE are at much higher risk of teen pregnancy, poor parenting skills, and subsequent child welfare issues because of low adaptive functioning skills.  Often, the way they were parented leads to their parenting style being harsh and punitive. Their limited coping skills, poor frustration tolerance, and lack of resourcefulness leaves them at much higher risk of neglect and abuse of their own children.  It is important for them to have access to injectable, implantable, and other long term, effective contraception to improve their life skills and community supports prior to pregnancy.

Putting a child in jail to await a psychiatric evaluation is like putting an elderly person with a broken hip in jail while waiting for a bed at a rehabilitation program. When are we going to start valuing the emotional well being of our most precious resource?  The children are our future and we must protect them at all cost!

More information on ND-PAE and criminal justice issues on our blog

Challenges of individuals with FASD. “Lives and crimes: Kids who suffer foetal alcohol spectrum disorder”

American Bar Association Resolution on FASD: A Call to Action for the Criminal Justice System

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and it’s consequences…