Hey, mom, put down that drink. Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix.
That’s the message being spread at Jersey Boys Diner on Seacoast Drive, and throughout the county, Monday in conjunction with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.
The countywide campaign to remind expectant mothers about the dangers of drinking while pregnant kicked off in Imperial Beach with words of wisdom from a woman who has experienced just how damaging drinking alcohol can be to a fetus.
“My daughter has had to struggle her whole life with simple, everyday tasks and behaviors,” says Peggy Combs-Way, a recovering alcoholic who is the president of the Southern California chapter of National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her daughter, Tracy, was born with FAS, the most severe condition association with drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Prenatal alcohol exposure is the most recognizable cause of mental retardation, according to NOFAS, which cites as many as 1 in 100 babies being affected by the preventable disorder. That’s nearly as many children as are diagnosed with autism each year, according to information from the organization.
Combs-Way says if she’d only known about the harm she was causing her baby as she developed, she would have done things differently.
“If I had been better educated on the topic, I would have been able to make better choices,” she says.
Several bars and restaurants in the county are joining the campaign, in partnership with UC San Diego, by distributing “Pregnant? Don’t Drink” coasters to customers. The drink mats warn that alcohol can cause lifelong brain damage, and reminds patrons there is no amount or type of liquor considered safe to drink during pregnancy.
“I’m so blessed to have a healthy child and if I can help someone else’s chances of also having a healthy child by encouraging my customers to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, then it’s the least I can do,” restaurant owner Gregg Lalka says.
Other establishments around the county participating in the coaster campaign are:
—Pitchers in Rancho Penasquitos
—Hess Brewing in San Diego
—Diamond Jims in Chula Vista
—Downtown Café in El Cajon
—El Rey and Lazy H Ranch, in Pauma Valley
—The Vineyards Wines & Tastes, Portino’s Fresh Italian,and The Eagles Nest in Valley Center
—The Gopher Hole at Castle Creek County Club in Escondido