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Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies

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Any substance a woman takes, whether it’s tobacco, alcohol or methamphetamine, can effect the development and structure of a fetal brain.  That’s the message today from a leading researcher of child development.

Dr. Ira Chasnoff, one of the nation’s leading researchers in the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on newborn infants says early intervention is the key for healthy babies.

“The interesting thing is most people jump right away in thinking about addicts.  But the reality is most of the woman who are using during pregnancy actually aren’t addicted.  And just with some education will quit.  Now a lot of the studies that we’re doing we have a screening program where five simple questions is very efficient and effective in identifying woman at highest risk and then you administer a brief intervention  of less than five minutes and it’s been shown that these brief interventions does help significantly reduce the number of women who continue to use during pregnancy. And the sooner you can get a woman off any of her substances, the better for the baby.”

Chasnoff,  who is president of the Children’s Research Triangle in Chicago, says even a little alcohol during pregnancy can produce changes that an effect the behavior and the learning abilities of a child long term.      

“Any substance a woman takes, whether it’s tobacco, or alcohol or methamphetamine, can effect the development and structure of a fetal brain and the question is what impact does that have long term.  You see a lot in the media that “well, it’s OK to have a little bit of alcohol or a little cocaine is fine during pregnancy.” But what we know is that there is no amount of any of these substances that is safe. Even a little alcohol during pregnancy can produce changes that an effect the behavior and the learning abilities of a child long term.” Dr. Ira Chasnoff, president of Children's Research Triangle in Chicago and a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Chasnoff is in Charleston today to speak at 2013 summit of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership.


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