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elppirc0
09-02-2010, 11:46 PM
Does anyone know when it became common knowledge that drinking alcohol is harmful to an unborn child? (more specific to my story)Is this something a person in the late 1800ís would have been aware of?

Cyia
09-03-2010, 12:41 AM
Not an expert, but considering that drinking while pregnant was still common place in the 1940's -50's, I doubt it.

Kenra Daniels
09-03-2010, 01:49 AM
I've read that some of the tonics and elixirs of the period were marketed to pregnant women and contained alcohol.

elppirc0
09-03-2010, 02:38 AM
Thanks for the responses,

Thereís a scene where the pregnant character is intoxicated and it dawned on me after I wrote it, sheís pregnant, she canít do that, but apparently she can and would have. It just seemed out of place, being so sensitive to such things today, but if itís accurate, I guess it shouldnít be a concern.

GeorgeK
09-03-2010, 03:04 AM
Some would know. Even the Romans knew the gist of it, but for most of history a little bit of alcohol was better than dysentery and cholera. I seem to remember it getting news coverage in the 70's which was around the same time that there were neonatologists even in more rural areas. In the 1800's probably the average person basically walked the tightrope of enough to be healthy (alcohol sanitised their drinking water), but not falling down drunk. Back then I'm sure those kids died in infancy so it was less of a social problem, particularly since at that time children were property and not individuals.

elppirc0
09-03-2010, 04:10 AM
The character is a maid for a wealthy family in America, sheís uneducated and in her early twenties. Would someone under these circumstances be likely to know better?

Stlight
09-03-2010, 05:01 AM
I can't answer your question directly, but consider the individual's situtation. Her guide would be the housekeeper. What the housekeeper said would go. A maid who got falling down drunk even on her own time might well be dismissed - such an action would reflect badly on the household, the other servants and the housekeeper who was in charge of the maids and their morality.

Which also brings to mind the quesiton how was it that the maid managed to keep her position once she was found to be pregnant? Is she married? Is her husband the butler or one of the footmen? Unmarried pregnant maids were generally dismissed without a character since it was assumed they had lost their character however they managed to get pregnant.

elppirc0
09-03-2010, 05:29 AM
Which also brings to mind the quesiton how was it that the maid managed to keep her position once she was found to be pregnant? Is she married? Is her husband the butler or one of the footmen? Unmarried pregnant maids were generally dismissed without a character since it was assumed they had lost their character however they managed to get pregnant.

The baby she's carrying belongs to the head of the family, and the child is important to him, so her marital status isn't important. He would not allow her to be dismissed.

shaldna
09-03-2010, 03:37 PM
Sometimes I wonder if it's common knowledge even now, I used to work in a nightclub and the number of very drunk, heavily pregnant women I saw was shocking.

GeorgeK
09-03-2010, 04:50 PM
The baby she's carrying belongs to the head of the family, and the child is important to him, so her marital status isn't important. He would not allow her to be dismissed.

So then most likely the head of the house regards her as breeding stock, in which case his education is the crux. If he's wealthy, then he hasn't been cheated out of his money. He's probably educated or values an education. However, it's the 1800's and there were a lot of quacks then too, so you could do anything and still have it historically accurate. He could also be of the religions that forbid alcohol entirely.

elppirc0
09-03-2010, 07:53 PM
So then most likely the head of the house regards her as breeding stock, in which case his education is the crux. If he's wealthy, then he hasn't been cheated out of his money. He's probably educated or values an education. However, it's the 1800's and there were a lot of quacks then too, so you could do anything and still have it historically accurate.

Thanks GeorgeK,

My story is definitely full of quacks, so that works out nicely.

Shadow_Ferret
09-03-2010, 08:14 PM
This condition was first recognized and reported in the medical literature in 1968 in France and in 1973 in the United States.

And it only became a busybody "OMG, you're not drinking, are you?" issue in just the last decade or two.

elppirc0
09-03-2010, 08:53 PM
And it only became a busybody "OMG, you're not drinking, are you?" issue in just the last decade or two.

Itís strange that thereís a five year discrepancy between the published results. You would think the 1968 findings in France would have made their way to America sooner, considering the implications.

Are you aware your ferret is upside down?

autumnleaf
09-03-2010, 09:02 PM
It’s strange that there’s a five year discrepancy between the published results. You would think the 1968 findings in France would have made their way to America sooner, considering the implications.


<off topic> Even stranger, French doctors today have no problems advising women that the occasional glass of wine is OK but don't overindulge. Whereas doctors in the English-speaking world advise total abstinence from alcohol in pregnancy. </off topic>

I doubt if ordinary people in the 19th century would have commented much on a pregnant women drinking. That is, if her drinking is within "normal" limits for women in that time and place. If she's a total lush, that would probably be an issue -- but more likely because she would get into trouble for being drunk at work!

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome of course existed, although it most likely wasn't recognised as such.

GeorgeK
09-04-2010, 01:13 AM
Itís strange that thereís a five year discrepancy between the published results. You would think the 1968 findings in France would have made their way to America sooner, considering the implications.



Actually that's fairly quick for published medical results to gain support. Most of what gets reported is debunked over the next ten years or so. When there is incontrovertible evidence it still takes a few years for secondary reports or subsequent phases of the same trials even to aggree with it.

GeorgeK
09-04-2010, 01:18 AM
<off topic> Even stranger, French doctors today have no problems advising women that the occasional glass of wine is OK but don't overindulge. Whereas doctors in the English-speaking world advise total abstinence from alcohol in pregnancy. </off topic>.

No, actually the only physicians that I've heard say that are themselves members of a few prostestant religions that hold that viewpoint or they assume that the patients will drink 3 times what they are told is the safe limit. It is definitely not that English speaking physicians don't read or understand medical literature, or that all of us preach total abstinence.

RJK
09-07-2010, 11:39 PM
Professional historians may disagree, but it's always been my understanding that when wine and beer was the preferred liquid (over contaminated water), the people didn't drink themselves into oblivion. They had a glass with meals, and perhaps a mug of beer after a hard day's work in the fields.

Their bodies would process the alcohol out of their systems as fast as they drank it.

This is not to say men didn't go to the local pub and drink till they couldn't stand, but it would be rare to find a woman (unless she was part of the entertainment) in the pub. Young children would not be allowed to partake in these activities.

This leads me to believe that, although alcohol was consumed by pregnant women, it was done in moderation, and apparently didn't harm our ancestors.