The Story of the River Babies

There are many versions of the story that teaches the lesson of looking up the river. This is one:

One summer in the village, the people in the town gathered for a picnic. As they leisurely shared food and conversation, someone noticed a baby in the river, struggling and crying. The baby was going to drown!

Someone rushed to save the baby. Then, they noticed another screaming baby in the river, and they pulled that baby out. Soon, more babies were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the babies as they came down the river. As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the babies, two of the townspeople started to run away along the shore of the river.

"Where are you going?" shouted one of the rescuers. "We need you here to help us save these babies!"

"We are going upstream to stop whoever is throwing them in!"

This folk tale is told to help people to look more closely at the root cause of social problems. This story can help us look more closely at the true causes of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

We are beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem presented by 50,000 children each year born in the United States with disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Some of us are busy saving the babies born with FASD, while others are going up the river to stop drinking during pregnancy, or at least to try.

We can try to "look up the river" beyond the obvious, to see that drinking during pregnancy is a serious problem, that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are not easily recognized or understood, that the solution is not as simple as telling pregnant women not to drink. We also need to realize that many of the parents of children with FASD may in fact be alcohol affected themselves. We want to provide as much quality information as possible to increase understanding of the depth of the problem, and the causes of the problem, so that we can plan effective prevention and intervention strategies in our communities.

Hopefully, key players will realize that one of the most important aspects of prevention of FASD is the provision of services for those already affected. Subsequently we can target this key group with prevention programs by providing them with adequate intervention services, so the cycle of generational FASD can be broken. By looking up the river of FASD, we can better apply our efforts to the FASD prevention.

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