Brain and Behaviour Newspaper Article - Joanne Pritchard
Issue 2: 31/10/2012Brain & BehaviourInformation for the population Word count: 1562 Log in | Register | SubscribeTop-picks: Dinner Party Discussions Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Are we predisposed to believe in god ? Are we emotionally capable of dealing with terror attacks?Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: the Ladette legacy?A new type of woman has evolved over the past 20 years. Out drinking most weekends, this new breed of lady is intent on having a good time and won’t letfemale stereotypes hold her back, but is the’ Ladette’ culture to blame for the rise in foetal alcohol syndrome? This article will explore why female alcoholconsumption is on the rise, along with unplanned pregnancies, and how, when the two are combined, the consequences can be dire. As well as the social issuessurrounding this topic the ‘real’ effect of this disorder will be considered. Examining the devastating effects alcohol can have on foetal development, it willdiscuss the physical and cognitive anomalies suffered and highlight how these impact on the health and emotional wellbeing of the child and those who are leftto pick up the pieces. Once laid bare, the answer to this question is clear…….The LadetteThe term ‘Ladette’ was first coined by advertising agency Colette Dictionaries, 2012). Although at first glance this may appear to be a newDickenson in 1995. It was an expression used to reflect the rise in women development, historically each generation has had its own breed of femalewho were shunning the traditional roles of home maker and wife in favour which goes against the grain (Jackson & Tinkler, 2007). The 1920’s saw theof one out drinking and having fun -- a life stereotypically enjoyed by rise of the ‘Modern Girl’. She was described as having little interest inyoung men (Bell, 2008). Since then, this commonly used term, has officially marriage and more in having fun and just like todays ladette this revolt wassecured its place in the English language (BBC News, 2001), described by attributed to financial freedom and an increase in disposable incomeThe Oxford Dictionary as ‘a young woman who behaves in a boisterously (Jackson & Tinkler, 2007; Drugalcohol info, 2012). The Modern Girl wasassertive or crude manner and engages in heavy drinking sessions’ (Oxford typically middle class and owed some of her wealth to her Heritage,
today’s ladette is generally working class and is responsible for her ownwealth, thanks to equal rights allowing higher paid positions to be owned bywomen (Alcohol Concern, 2012).Binge drinkingDespite equality between the sexes, on many levels there are physicaldifferences which mean the effects of alcohol take hold quicker in women.These are due to factors such as height, body fat, and the amount of water inthe body (Drink aware, 2012; Mumenthaler, 1999). Current governmentguidelines are reflective of such differences and recommend that womenconsume no more than 2-3 alcohol units per day and men no more than 3-4.This translates as 1.3 – 1.7 standard (175ml) glasses of wine. Consumingmore than 6 units in one sitting is classed as binge drinking -- typicalamongst the 16 – 24 age groups (Drink aware, 2012). Whether theserecommendations are just not known or just plain ignored is debatable butbetween 1998 – 2006 the UK saw a 9% rise in female binge drinking 1.1 Girls night out in Cardiff (Mail Online, 2009)(Alcohol Concern, 2012). Foetal Alcohol SyndromeAlcohol, Promiscuity, and Pregnancy With an increase in alcohol related pregnancies, attention has to be paid toAside from the negative health implications, drinking is commonly known the effect of alcohol on the developing foetus. Despite the fact otherto cause changes in behaviour, particularly surrounding impulsivity and risk teratogens (substances which can effect human development) can be equallytaking. One such behaviour associated with alcohol consumption is sexual as harmful to the unborn child -- such as marijuana and cocaine -- alcoholactivity (Alcohol Concern, 2012; WHO, 2012). Alcohol increases the abuse is the only type which has a named condition associated with itlikelihood of unprotected sex, particularly in brief sexual encounters. This is (American Pregnancy Association, 2011). This, along with the estimated 28thought to be due to its influence over thought processing. Rather than pregnancies per week which are affected, highlight its prevalenceresponding to logic or reason you are more likely to respond to the here and (www.parliament.uk, 2004).now of a situation and an attractive individual will likely take priority over Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a term used since 1973safe sex (MacDonald et al, 1996). (Mukherjee, 2005) to describe a set of physical characteristics, as well as This is further supported by a study carried out in a sexual health mental deficits, which are acquired as a direct result of being exposed toclinic in the south of England. It documented that 86% of people who alcohol in utero (World Health Organisation, 2012). The severity of theattended reported binge drinking, with 76% admitting to having had difficulties suffered can vary quite dramatically and are dependent on twounprotected sex and a staggeringly low 18% of females admitting that they factors: firstly the amount of alcohol exposure, and secondly at what point‘always’ used condoms (Standerwick et al. 2007). during the pregnancy exposure occurs -- children exposed to larger From this is it really a surprise to know that women who binge drink quantities of alcohol in the first trimester are likely to be affected morehave more unwanted pregnancies? Or that ladettes are 40% likelier to have severely (American Pregnancy Association, 2011; Drinkaware, 2012). Foran abortion? (Borland, 2010). this reason children who are affected are categorised as having a Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with FAS sitting at the severe end ofPromiscuity the scale (World Health Organisation, 2012). .
Features BlameThe following descriptions relate to FAS As FAS is a 100% preventable condition (PubMed, 2011) and not yetitself but may present to varying degrees proven to be affected by paternal drinking (Cicero, 1994), can blame liein children further down the FASD largely at the feet of the biological mother?scale. Image 1.2 depicts a child Armstrong (2003) argues against, highlighting that other factorsdisplaying the three most common facial influence development including how effective the body is at breakingfeatures associated with FAS known as down alcohol, smoking, and maternal age. It could also be argued that therethe triad. These include a thin upper lip, are instances where pregnancy is unknown. Alcohol blackouts aresmooth philtrum (area between the nose increasingly common amongst binge drinkers and it is possible intercourseand upper lip), and small eye openings could take place and conception occur without recollection (Zorumski,which have large epicanthal folds (skin 2012; White et al, 2004) but is this an acceptable excuse? It may be anbetween the nose and the inner corner of argument with would hold up at a university debate but when it comesthe eye) (PubMed, 2011). Affected down to it and a woman is faced with the difficulties of looking after orchildren also suffer growth giving up a child with FAS can she really, hand on heart, say that she couldabnormalities of the head and body not have prevented it? That she did not know that alcohol was not(Drinkaware, 2012). A restriction in the 1.2 Child with FAS (adoption UK, 2012) conducive to healthy development? In an educated society, with access tosize of the head is indicative of the child free contraception, pregnancy is easily preventable (Muella et al, 2008).having a smaller than average brain and with this comes a degree of cognitive FAS may not be punishable crime in the eyes of the law (yet) butdeficits. should it be? Why should penance only be reserved for the afflicted, those Affected children will have broad range of difficulties such as who have no choice of what they are born into? Reflective of the blameproblems with language, poor short term memory, a difficulty remaining culture that is now, solicitors are now specialising in compensatory law tofocussed, hyperactivity, difficulty following instructions, and poor social claim for those caring for a child with FAS (GLP Solicitors, 2012).skills – all of which will impair their ability to learn (Drinkaware, 2012). As ifall this wasn’t enough to contend with, the medical needs of a child with FAScan be extensive including: epilepsy, liver damage, kidney and heart defects,and hearing problems (Drinkaware, 2012). The demands this can place on afamily are often too much to bear, emotionally and physically, often resultingin the child being taken into foster care (NOFAS, 2009).SupportPhysical signs are a good indicator of FAS but are not always present if thechild falls lower on the spectrum. Because of this and a woman’s reluctanceto admit drinking whilst pregnant it is not known just how many children areaffected (Drinkaware, 2012). These children, in some ways, suffer more assupport cannot be given to a child who is thought of as ‘normal’. Behaviouraltraits and cognitive difficulties may be put down to a broad spectrum learningdifficulty, Attention Deficit Disorder or worse still the child may just belabelled as disruptive (Drinkaware, 2012). Without the right support in place 1.3 How long before a sentence is attached? (GLP Solicitors, 2012)how can a child be expected to thrive and reach its full potential?
So……..With the facts laid bare, it really falls down to opinion whether or not you believe FAS is a consequence of the economic stability of fun loving women or not.What is known though is that binge drinking is on the rise, prevalent amongst women of child bearing age, and encourages promiscuity and unsafe sex…..a lethalcocktail when all thrown in the mix. Maybe the real question needs to be ‘what should be done to limit the tragedy of FAS?’ And the answer……….Everything!The devastating effects of this condition need to be as widely promoted as the toxins that cause it. Emphasis needs to be placed on the spectrum of foetal disordersthat are associated with drinking not just FAS which may primarily be associated with hardened alcoholics rather than party going girls. Aside from the long termhealth implications of binge drinking, importance needs to be placed on the imminent dangers, the life long, 100% preventable conditions which will impact onthem, their families, and above all the innocent children affected.. Reporter : Joanne Pritchard References Adoption UK. (2012). Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Retrieved 10 Oct, 2012, from http://www.adoptionuk.org/ Alcohol Concern. (2012). State of the nation – facts and figureson England and alcohol. Retrieved 15 Oct, 2012, from http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/assets/files/PressAndMedia/state.of.the.nation.pdf American Pregnancy Association. (2012) Alcohol and Pregnancy: What you should know. Retrieved 29 Sep, 2012, from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/alcohol.html Armstrong, E. M. (2003). Conceiving Risk, Bearing Responsibility: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Diagnosis of Moral Disorder. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. BBC News. (2001). Ladette enters dictionary. Retrieved 12 Oct, 2012, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1434906.stm Bell, E. (2008). From Mad Girl to Bad Girl. Genders. Retrieved 12 Oct, 2012, from http://www.genders.org/g48/g48_bell.html Borland, S. (2012). Highbeam. Retrieved 15 Oct, 2012, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-235061899.html Cicero, T. J. (1994). Effects of Paternal Exposure to Alcohol on Offspring Development. Alcohol, Health & Research World, 18(1), pp. 37- 41. Drinkaware. (2012). Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Retrieved 25 September, 2012, from http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-and-you/family/foetal-alcohol- syndrome?gclid=CPn8npvO0LICFaTJtAodshoAIg Drugsalcohol info. (2012). Why are women drinking more? Retrieved 29 Sep, 2012, from http://www.drugsalcohol.info/content/why-are-women-drinking-more
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