This Mother Drank Alcohol While Pregnant, Now She’s Vowed to Make a Difference

By Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
January 20, 2016 Updated: June 14, 2017

Kathy Mitchell ignored the warnings and drank alcohol while she was pregnant. 

Now the teenager has grown up, and so has her daughter—Karli is 43.

But because of fetal alcohol syndrome, the result of alcohol exposure in utero, Karli is the developmental age of a first-grader and still lives at home. 

“In middle age, Karli has none of the awareness, self-determination and independence that most of us take for granted. She can’t recognize social cues, is easily led and manipulated, and can’t predict dangerous behaviors. She can only follow one rule at a time and doesn’t understand sequence. She can cross a street at a lighted crosswalk, but if the light is out, she’ll step in front of a car. She likes to wear pretty clothes, but she can’t remember to brush her teeth,” reported the Washington Post.

Kathy feels pain at what happened, and regret that she didn’t make a better choice. 

“I adore my very sweet daughter,” Kathy said. “She’s a forever innocent child. But not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself, ‘What if? What if alcohol hadn’t been a part of my life?'”

But she’s speaking out about what happened to try to stop expectant mothers from drinking while pregnant, in the hopes of driving down fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, also known as FASD. 

According to the CDC, the disorder is caused by alcohol the pregnant mother drinks passing to her baby through the umbilical cord.

No amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women.

“When a woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby,” it states.

No amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women, and it’s also unsafe to drink if a woman thinks she might get pregnant.

People who do get FASD face a number of problems, including possible abnormal facial features, low body weight, poor memory, intellectual disabilities, and poor reasoning and judgement skills.

Kathy, now the vice president of the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, says that when she first found out about the disorder, she vowed to make a difference.

“I thought I would die from the grief and guilt,” she said. “It was one of the worst days of my life, and at that moment I knew that I had to do what I could to prevent this from happening to another child.”