Woman overcomes fetal alcohol
By Chen Chekki - The Chronicle-Journal
September 10, 2003
Ramona Moore couldn’t walk straight or comprehend math while growing up.
But the 24-year-old Thunder Bay woman who was exposed to alcohol while developing in her mother’s womb thinks she is one of the lucky ones.
“I didn’t face the same things others face,” she said yesterday at a gathering held at Magnus Theatre to mark International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day.
It was a day meant to educate the public about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — health problems caused to the fetus while in the womb.
Moore said many people with the disorder lack motivation, as well as support from family and society.
She made it through school, she said, because she had family who encouraged her to do her best.
A graduate of Confederation College, Moore is considering a career related to her disorder that effects 360,000 people across Canada.
The disability can lead to mental illness, early school dropout and chronic unemployment, among many other disadvantages, says NorWest Community Health Centres.
An FASD awareness poster created by NorWest and other agencies was unveiled yesterday.
“Not just poor women drink,” she said. “The entire community has to deal with the problem.”
But Northern Ontario residents must worry more about the risk of FASD, because it has higher rates of alcoholism.
Information collected in Thunder Bay District in 2001, shows 89 per cent of females aged 15-49 consumed alcohol in the last year, compared to 77 per cent provincially, said Lee Sieswerda, an epidemiologist with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
He said binge drinking by district women in the same age group is at 44 per cent, 42 per cent higher than the provincial average.
Statistics for drinking while pregnant were considered low. “There may be a tendency for women to fail to report drinking while pregnant, owing to the fact that its socially undesirable for women to admit they are drinking while pregnant,” he said.
Any alcohol consumption by a pregnant mother is bad for her fetus at any stage during pregnancy, yesterday’s gathering was told.
Health experts say almost any kind of drug consumed by mothers goes to the fetus, which shares almost everything the mother takes into her body. Alcohol is transported from the large blood vessel of the umbilical cord to the growing fetus.
In addition to learning and behavioural difficulties throughout life, some people with FASD have abnormal facial features that include broadened flat noses with upturned nostrils. Others have narrow lips, smaller chins and experience stunting of growth, and damage to heart and kidneys.
Moore said people with FASD will succeed as long as they work at their own level and don’t push themselves too hard.
“Work with the disability, not against it,” she said.
Note from Ramona: “I have not overcome FASD, I have overcome some of its most devastating obstacles, it took a long time for me to do what I did do at college 3 years and being told I wasn't suited to my intial starter course of Developmental Service Worker, I'd wanted that diploma since the 9th grade. I did get a General Arts and Science Diploma.”