"No glass, no drop, not even on Christmas day"

By Melody HansenLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

If you are pregnant, you must not drink alcohol. Everyone knows that. But few people know what fatal consequences even a sip of alcohol can have for an unborn child. Many symptoms only become noticeable when the child starts school. Here's why even half a glass at Christmas or on New Year's Eve is not OK.

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It is on a cold December day that we meet Carole for a hot chocolate. The young mother peels her son out of his winter jacket, lifts him out of the pram and looks at him lovingly. Then she gives him a kiss on the forehead. "They are so small and can't defend themselves. They need our protection", she says. Protection that she herself did not have. When Carole was born a month early 36 years ago, her whole tiny body was shaking. Even as a baby, she had to learn to function without alcohol.

Carole's parents were both severe alcoholics. Her mother drank throughout her pregnancy. As a result, her daughter suffers from the so-called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The term refers to a whole range of prenatal impairments that can be traced back to the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and can manifest themselves in different ways.

For Carole, it is a pronounced learning disability that affects her life the most. She could not walk until she was three years old. "I had to repeat kindergarten three times." She also attended the third year of school twice until she later attended the Waldorf School and then a then so-called "modulaire" class (today's preparatory level). "To this day, I can't concentrate for long at a stretch. Learning vocabulary or mathematics didn't work at all when I was at school."

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