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Ask the experts about alcohol's damage

Posted: February 25, 2011 - 9:47am

It is with much concern that I read the headlines of Thursday’s (Feb. 24) paper concerning alcohol retail. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a crisis in this state in the use of alcohol, and its not just in the “bush” (read Native) communities. The effects of alcohol on spousal abuse, home violence, DWI deaths, and related tragedies should be the primary concern of our legislative leaders, not just the further marketing of alcohol. Suicide rates among our young are frightening, and I wonder about the role alcohol consumption plays in them. But certainly the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome effects are enormous. Calling them “fetal” is a misnomer, because it affects the entire life of the person who has it, not just their early years. It permanently alters their brain structures. And its not something that only happens in “bush” communities. It often takes a woman three of more weeks to discover she is pregnant. How about her alcohol consumption during that period? Three weeks where the fetus is forming and developing and may well be awash with alcohol if the woman chooses to party during that period.

Even though she may be dedicated to avoiding alcohol during the rest of her pregnancy, it may well be too late. The damage has been done. And it is permanent. Deb Evenson, in Homer, is an expert in FAS and its effects. I urge our state leaders to contact her or other experts to gain accurate information before taking steps that may well promote a higher use of alcohol. Whatever agency this ends up in needs to put public safety first, not marketing. If those who support right to life want an issue to champion, what issue could be better than one that preserves the integrity of the fetal brain.

Steve Wolf

Juneau

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