My wife is currently growing our first baby. Neither of us had children coming into the marriage so it’s been, at times, an overwhelming task to learn about pregnancy. The task is made needlessly complicated by the proliferation of fake science on the internet. At times you simply can’t tell what is accurate information. That’s why information from obstetricians is vital to the baby’s health and wellbeing.
It should be common knowledge that drinking while pregnant is a bad idea. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say avoid all alcohol while pregnant. However, a quick internet search for Pregnancy Myths Alcohol yields contradictory information on the subject. Enter HB 2695.
The bill is short and to the point. It requires:
- doctors to provide information on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders to expectant parents at the initial contact,
- doctors to provide information on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders to the parents of a child who receives that diagnosis, AND
- states a cause of action will not lie for failure to give the required information.
Essentially, the bill requires doctors to warn about the dangers of drinking while pregnant, and shields them from liability if they do not.
Warnings regarding the dangers while drinking are found on all alcoholic beverages. The message isn’t getting through. The CDC has compiled statistics on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. For Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the most involved impairment, they estimate that 0.5 to 1.5 infants per 1,000 live births by medical records; rising to 6 to 9 out of every 1000 by in-school assessment. That number doesn’t seem too high, until you remember that this is an entirely preventable birth defect. However, that number just measures Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Looking at the full range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders shows an incidence of 2 to 5 per 100 school children. That’s 2 to 5%, all of which are preventable.
The thought is that an expectant mother will listen to information from her obstetrician. This will cut through the fake science proliferating online and reduce the incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Some bills are simply good ideas. This is one such bill. The cost of compliance is de minimis – simply print out information and give it as part of the initial visit paperwork. Doctors are shielded from liability in case the information isn’t provided. A very similar bill was introduced last session and never made it to the floor. It’s time to rise above politics and pass this uncontroversial bill.
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