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Wednesday,October 28,2020 05:40 AM

Alcohol is a disaster to children

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd May 2004 03:00 AM

Alcohol and children at whatever age simply do not mix.
From conception to at least 16 years of age, children should not drink alcohol, child health experts say

Alcohol and children at whatever age simply do not mix.
From conception to at least 16 years of age, children should not drink alcohol, child health experts say

By Vision Reporter

Alcohol and children at whatever age simply do not mix.
From conception to at least 16 years of age, children should not drink alcohol, child health experts say.

Recent research published in the Journal of Pediatrics has shown that besides the well-documented damage to the brain and spinal cord, there is also nerve damage in the limbs of babies whose mothers drank alcohol heavily while pregnant. The researchers define heavy drinking as four standard drinks a day or more.

A standard drink is a bottle of beer,
a glass of wine or one mixed drink. In simple terms, if a pregnant woman is drinking, the fetus is too!
Alcohol interferes with a child’s ability to get enough oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and other organs. The resultant problems include small body size, heart defects, mental retardation, learning disabilities and poor coordination. Consultant Paediatrician Dr. S. B. T. Kintu explains further that some babies could be born with foetal distress, an alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
“If the baby gets used to a high concentration of alcohol in its blood from a drinking mother’s womb, when it is born it may suffer the same kind of withdrawal symptoms that an adult user would face when he tries to quit,” Kintu says.

In some cultures, parents pour alcohol down the throat of a child almost as soon as it can be spoon-fed! Others give their older children crude waragi in the name of de-worming them, yet there is no medical evidence to support this.
“It is never safe to give ‘just a sip’. I have never heard anyone say that they would not have got far in life if they hadn’t taken that first sip of alcohol,” Kintu stresses. Dr. Rahim Shirazi, who has worked extensively with alcohol and drug addicts, said when parents drink regularly in the presence of children, it may prompt the child to want to drink too.

In the case of 12-year-old William (not real name), his parents were brewers of crude alcohol. His household duties from the age of six consisted of tasting the brew to see if it had reached the right level. At 12, William was an alcoholic and admitted to a rehabilitation centre in Kampala.
Shirazi says this is dangerous because the brain of a child continues to develop during adolescence, and alcohol can impede this process by killing nerve cells. Damage from alcohol at this time can be long-term and irreversible.

Research findings show that adolescent drinkers perform poorly in school. Alcohol affects the sleep cycle, inhibits systems for storing information and makes it difficult to remember what was learned. A student may experience blackouts, which is the inability to reproduce an experience or event.

Though the word alcohol is derived from the Arabic Al-Koohl, meaning ‘high spirits’, it is mainly a depressant. So students who claim they study better under the influence alcohol are only fooling themselves.

Alcohol is a disaster to children

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