The fourth class was to me the most boring (only because the lady was kind of dry) but yet gave us very important information that we would need later. We were actually 30 minutes late to this class because we had the time mixed up. I can't say I wish I would have been there in the beginning, except it probably looked rude for us to be showing up late...oops. I can't remember what exactly the presenter does, but she was from the UofA and talked about the effects of teratogens on newborns. She discussed various categories including illegal narcotics, prescription medications, alcohol, smoking, and some others. I was surprised at the lack of proven effect on babies exposed to street drugs. Alcohol and smoking were most harmful. Alcohol of course can cause fetal alcohol syndrome in about 50% of babies whose birthmother drank during pregnancy. We saw pictures of FAS children. Often the signs of FAS don't show up until the children are a little older. One of the telltale signs is absence of the groove in the space between your upper lip and nose. I'm sure I learned that in school along the way somewhere, but I don't remember. Smoking causes low birth weight in babies and can interfere with fetal development. There is evidence that illegal drugs like heroin, marijuana, cocaine, etc cause some birth defects but the incidence is low. The problem with the birthmother being on these substances is the withdrawal that the baby has to go through after birth when the baby is no longer receiving the substance through the placenta.
The reason this information was important was because during our joint interview with our case worker, David and I had to decide how much and which substances we would be ok with the birthmother having been on during pregnancy. I will go over what we chose when I get to the joint interview post.