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A leading authority puts the debate to rest: No alcohol during pregnancy is safe.

To avoid fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, the AAP advises pregnant women against drinking anything at all.

A leading authority puts the debate to rest: No alcohol during pregnancy is safe.

Good news/bad news for women who enjoy a glass of wine now and then and are planning to get pregnant.

Cheers! Or not. Photo by Megan Eaves/Flickr.


First, the good news: After years of conflicting advice, we finally have some clear guidelines on whether it's safe to consume any alcohol during pregnancy.

The bad news? You might want to re-cork that bottle and un-shake that martini because a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that even an occasional drink is no good.

Sigh.

But hey, let's focus on the bright side. Those clear guidelines are super useful for expectant mothers and soon-to-be expectant mothers. The fact is, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are totally preventable, and this report is finally giving us the clear info we need.

First, a quick definition: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of of conditions that can result from alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the effects of FASD can include behavior and physical problems, such as trouble with the following:

- Learning and remembering
- Understanding and following directions
- Controlling emotions
- Communicating and socializing
- Daily life skills, such as feeding and bathing



For years, research, experts, and doctors couldn't definitively agree on whether any amount of alcohol could cause FASD.

Cheers? Maybe not... Photo via iStock.

In fact, just one year ago, a large-scale study concluded that "moderate" drinking during pregnancy was OK. Today Parents reported on the study, which actually found that "expectant mothers who drink moderately have children with better mental health than children of mothers who abstain."

But then, as it usually goes when the conversation turns to drinking during pregnancy, we got a conflicting opinion — from none other than the co-author of the very study that came to that conclusion.

"I really think we should recommend abstaining [from drinking] during pregnancy," said study co-author Janni Niclasen, who was a post-doctoral student at the University of Copenhagen. "I really believe that even a glass of wine now and again is really damaging."

You can see why we'd all be a little confused ... until this week, when the AAP drew a clear, hard line in the sand.

Photo by J.K. Califf/Flickr.

No ambiguity here. They named "prenatal exposure to alcohol as the leading preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities in children."

The clinical report was published in the November issue of Pediatrics, and the abstract contained clear-cut information:

"During pregnancy:
- no amount of alcohol intake should be considered safe;
- there is no safe trimester to drink alcohol;
- all forms of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and liquor, pose similar risk; and
- binge drinking poses dose-related risk to the developing fetus."



The AAP also shared the increased odds of having a baby with FASD:

  • Compared with consuming no alcohol, drinking during first trimester increased the odds by 12 times.
  • Drinking during the first and second trimester increased the odds by 61 times.
  • Drinking during all three trimesters increased the odds by 65 times.

The conclusion from Dr. Janet F. Williams, a lead researcher? "The research suggests that the smartest choice for women who are pregnant is to just abstain from alcohol completely."

Good to know. But, look: Parenting is fraught with judgment from everyone, pretty much from the moment a woman announces she's expecting.

Which is why this new information shouldn't be used to judge moms for past choices. It's there to help expecting mothers make the best decisions possible for themselves and their babies.

Over my own 20+ years of motherhood, I've written a lot about breastfeeding. My mom was a lactation consultant, I breastfed all three of my children through toddlerhood, and I've engaged in many lengthy debates about breastfeeding in public.

But in all that time, I've never seen a video that encapsulates the reality of the early days of breastfeeding like the Frida Mom ad that aired on NBC during the Golden Globes. And I've never seen a more perfect depiction of the full, raw reality of it than the uncensored version that bares too much full breast to be aired on network television.

The 30-second for-TV version is great and can be seen in this clip from ET Canada. The commentary that accompanies it is refreshing as well. We do need to normalize breastfeeding. We do need to see breasts in a context other than a sexualized one that caters to the male gaze. We do need to let new moms know they are not the only ones feeling the way they feel.


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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Kara Coley, a bartender at Sipps in Gulfport, Mississippi, got an unusual phone call on the job last week.

Photo courtesy of Kara Coley.

"Good evening," Coley answered. "Thank you for calling Sipps!"

A woman on the other end of the line asked, "Is this a gay bar?"

Sipps welcomes everyone, Coley explained to her, but indeed attracts a mostly LGBTQ crowd.



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The Hill/Twitter

It was a mere three weeks ago that President Biden announced that the U.S. would have enough vaccine supply to cover every adult American by the end of July. At the time, that was good news.

Today, he's bumped up that date by two full months.

That's great news.

In his announcement to the nation, Biden outlined the updated process for getting the country immunized against COVID-19.


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