Introduction

In Australia, according to research studies performed on alcohol consumption shows various age-related drinking patterns along-with showing higher occurrence of alcohol drinking in pregnant women. Here, it is worthwhile to mention that there have been serious concerns regarding the effects on alcohol on the unborn child since the biblical times. Pregnant women have been strictly advised to abstain themselves from drinking during the pregnancy on account of its potential toxic effects on reproduction system. It is felt that this ubiquitous drug is generally accepted as safe, but it may have significant contribution in increasing morbidity and mortality rates of infants (Green, 1974).

Rosett (1998) and Sokol & Clarren (1989) identify certain abnormalities in children whose mothers are alcoholic and named these complex symptoms as “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD)”. Children with FASD have special facial features e.g. their upper lip is small and thin, they have small openings of eyes, and their mid-face is flat. It also retards post-natal growth despite adequate nutrition and causes heart and joints anomalies (Jones, 1973).A huge and developing collection of research has prompted confirm based FASD training of experts and the general population, more extensive avoidance activities, and suggested treatment approaches (Elliott, 2008). Albeit alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) influence groups around the world, little is thought about its predominance.

This study aims to create media portfolio of four articles related to FASD in pregnant aboriginal women and how it has affected the lives of children and their family. Further, the relation of the article to the study conducted in the class as well as existing literature has been analysed. Finally, how the article supports the stand taken has been justified and a personal reflection has been provided which shows my personal beliefs and opinions.

Media 1: ‘Aboriginal women lead change prevent high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome in remote Australia’ – Dan Gaffney and Maya Kay. The University of Sydney News. 19 Jan 2015. http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=14515

 

Summary and analysis of key themes

This article was posted in 2015 which stated the initiative made in remote areas of Australia to make diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and make people aware of the same. The Liliwan Study developed by the aboriginal leaders of the Fitzroy Valley communities provided data on the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the remote areas of Western Australia. The project aimed at diagnosing this health issue and framing management plans to address it. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused due to alcohol consumption in pregnancy which causes problems to fetus such as low IQ, delayed development and problems in hearing, speech and abnormal facial features. Inspite of restrictions imposed on consumption of alcohol but the people in remote areas are not aware of the harmful effects caused by alcohol in pregnancy. This demanded urgent attention of developing some programs to make people aware of it. The Fitzroy Valley Communities initiated this step and the government also contributed $9 million for management of FASD in Australia to help such communities. The diagnosis in Fitzroy Valley Study was made with latest criteria and use of questionnaires by a team of clinicians. The families were made aware of the danger that a women causes to its child during pregnancy by drinking alcohol. The Liliwan Study is a result of the collaboration of research between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal partners to address issues of communities. Various government institutions like the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia also supported this Liliwan study.

 

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Linkage with Class discussion and Literature

As discussed in the class, there are several diseases and problems that children are exposed to due to FASD. Hence it is important for the government to take initiatives. Moreover as discussed in class, it requires attention for services from various health organization, community organizations, and remedial educationists. Early diagnosis and preventive measure can inhibit the long-term adverse effects. Therefore, in order to control the increasing FASD in Australian pregnant women, preventions are required to launch a national campaign to build awareness among the public about the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and its harmful effects for the development of fetus.

Not only the program shall be targeted to pregnant women or women of child-bearing age, rather the entire population in general needs to be conveyed harm-reduction strategies for consuming alcohol. These strategies must change the individual attitudes as well as attitudes of communities towards supporting the current culture of alcoholism. The issues of alcohol related harm to the fetus should be highlighted. They should educate women who are known for their dependency on alcohol during pregnancy, thus enhancing the health of fetus, and address the maternal use of alcohol and other substances. It also required preventing the further pregnancies that are prone to alcohol consumption as such women children are more exposed to FASD (Steering Committee Review, 2011).

 

Contribution to the Topic Debate

There are number of indigenous and non-indigenous women who are not aware of the possible harms of alcohol consumption on health of their babies. It requires providing comprehensive services to the child bearing women regarding the potential fatal effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The early detection of FASD in children is very crucial otherwise it is likely to persist throughout life. Hence the initiatives by The Fitzroy Valley Communities have been very positive to this aspect. However the Government still lacks in certain aspects. There is a need to target the population that is at high risk e.g. children who are in the care of protection of state, children whose mother are taking alcohol treatments, communities who are identified as higher consumers of alcohol, and children in juvenile justice systems (Colvin et al., 2007). The role of health practitioner to diagnose FASD is very unsatisfactory as they fail to frequently ask about the use of alcohol in pregnancy thus not giving women advice to restrain themselves from drinking and its potential adverse effects.

 

Personal reflection 

This media article provides a great insight into the action of the government. I find that the government is taking active steps to prevent this big health problem of FASD in the country that is leading to the fatal future of the millennial. The people in remote areas who are unaware of the issues relating to consumption of alcohol in pregnancy have been much helped by the government initiative. I feel quite good that government is providing an insight to the women about the dire effects of FASD in children and how it ruins their entire life. I believe that this article greatly influences the readers and makes them realize about the government initiatives relating to fatal consequences of drinking during the pregnancy phase

Media 2:Aboriginal women, alcohol and the road to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder’ – Lorian G Hayes. The Medical Journal of Australia. 2012. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/197/1/aboriginal-women-alcohol-and-road-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder

 

Summary and analysis of key themes

The article presents a survey conducted by an aboriginal woman on several aboriginal women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy. In the survey, it was found that drinking in aboriginal community of Queensland, was considered as an identity and culture and was also a familiar practice at many places. Various programs developed to make people aware failed as the people were more influenced with their culture. The framework used in the study focused on the use of alcohol in indigenous communities which was developed on the basis of various interviews and discussion with community members. The purpose of this study was to understand the fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and trauma caused in early life to children.  The respondents shared the reasons of consuming alcohol during pregnancy which was the result of their environment and families and friends, though they were aware of its harmful effects.  The interview respondents were categorised on the basis of story lines. The stories catered to the memories of people during their life cycle which impacted their social and intellectual development. The impact of the violence and noise created by their parents influenced by alcohol made them scared and lonely and responsible at the same time. The consumption of alcohol in pregnancy not only affected the young women but also the unborn. It promoted the need of health programs and models to cater young ones who are exposed to negative adult behaviour because of alcohol.

 

 

Linkage with Class discussion and Literature

As discussed in the class, as far as, the impact of alcohol consumption in pregnant women is concerned it is heavily reliant on their drinking patterns. The impact of excessive drinking will be different and depends upon the timings of exposure in the development of embryo. It is likely that during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, the primary effects of teratogen occur whereas exposure in the later stages of pregnancy can contribute to the lack of cognitive and behavioural growth. Despite the higher risk of irreversible brain damage of unborn child, the rate of alcohol consumption is increasing in Australian women during pregnancy. In Australia, a large proportion of young women who are in the age of child bearing consume alcohol at high-levels. According to research study done on Western Australia shows that around 59% of the women used to drink alcohol in the last months of their pregnancy (Colvin et al., 2007). The study also revealed unplanned pregnancies in 47% women. Another latest study shows that 34% of Australian aboriginal women drink heavily during last months of pregnancy (Peadon et al., 2011).

 

Contribution to the Topic Debate

In Australia the higher proportion of indigenous women restrains themselves from drinking as compared to non-indigenous women, but the indigenous women have proportion of consuming alcohol to high risk-levels. There are 35% of indigenous women under age 18 who reported to not had been consuming alcohol in the last 12 months whereas the ratio is 20% of non-aboriginals. Drinking to risk-level proportion among aboriginals remained 14% whereas the women reported of binge drinking among non-aboriginals is 5% (AIHW, 2013). There are number of factors causing large number of Australian aboriginals to consume alcohol to riskier level. This is because they are economically marginalised; face difficulties in cultural assimilation, familial conflicts, domestic violence, and family history of using alcohol inappropriately (Kelly & Kowalyszyn 2003).

 

Personal reflection 

The use of Alcohol is deeply embedded is cultural norms of Australian society. It is widely used by both Australian indigenous and non-indigenous population. I did not like that women in Australia are not serious about their children who could lead severe diseases because of their alcohol consumption during pregnancy. I am quite sad that although knowing the harmful effects that the foetus and can have, women in Australia are more influenced on their so called culture.  

Media 3:  ‘Health of Indigenous peoples: fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)’ –  Cochrane Library. 6 Aug 2015. http://www.cochranelibrary.com/app/content/special-collections/article/?doi=10.1002/(ISSN)14651858(CAT)Freeaccesstoreviews(VI)indigenoushealthFASD