The overall behavior of children is strongly influenced by the activities of their parents. As parents are the role model of their children, their deeds and actions can have a direct impact on them. In fact, parental behavior during both prenatal period and childhood can influence the orientations and other changes in a child.
The health status of infants at birth are largely influenced by a variety of factors, such as health and nutritional status of mothers or any kind of substance abuse that can affect fetal development. Any type of exposure to substances, such as alcohol, drugs, etc., during pregnancy can have deleterious effects on the fetus.
Such an exposure not only affects the baby’s central nervous system (CNS) and cause neurobehavioral changes, but also increases the risk of increased dependence of substances in later years. According to the Institute of Medicine’s 1996 Report to Congress, of all the substances, alcohol causes by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in the fetus.
Drinking at any time during pregnancy can cause severe dysfunctions in the fetus. More often than not, pregnancy is unplanned and women tend to drink alcohol even before they are aware of their pregnancy. In addition to affecting the CNS, the exposure to alcohol during pregnancy also affects other organs. Therefore, no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, a fetus receives nutrition and oxygen from its mother. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it leads to the accumulation of a higher proportion of alcohol in the fetus, thereby affecting its nutrition and the supply of oxygen.
Both moderate and heavy drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to severe damages to the fetus, including mental imbalance, cardiac abnormalities, behavioral changes, psychotic disorders and deformed limbs, with an increased risk of death.
Compared to other children, those born in families with a history of alcoholism have increased chances of turning to alcohol in their later years. Parents’ substance abuse habits can strongly influence adolescents. Therefore, genetic factors and familial history can play a pivotal role in influencing youngsters’ inclination toward alcohol. No matter how or what parents may teach their children about alcohol, some genetic factors will always be present in their behavior that can never be changed.
Due to the exposure to alcohol during pregnancy, a child may develop some complicacies in his or her mental health, which can eventually cause anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. Additionally, it increases the risk of using alcohol for self-medication purposes.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), over 10 percent of the children in the United States are living with parents addicted to alcohol. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol abuse contributes to about 3.3 million deaths every year, leading to severe health issues like liver damage, heart failure, cancer and female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) in infants.
When parents indulge in alcohol, they barely pay attention to the needs of their children. Such children have to live under the same roof and bear all emotional hardships, domestic violence, financial instability, physical and mental pressure, etc. During this period, they also witness several hormonal changes, which greatly affects their physical and mental state. Consequently, many adolescents turn to alcohol to alleviate increased stress and distress.
Several studies have highlighted that children living with parents addicted to alcohol or other substances for a long term tend to stay in the system. Children who grow up under the influence of alcohol are more likely to carry the trend into their adulthood or develop these activities in their later years. One is recommended to not be afraid to discuss about his or her addiction problems with a trusted friend or a counselor.
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