Health Topics Devotional

>Home >Worship & Study >Health Topics Devotional

Better Advice

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. Judges 13:4, 5, NIV.

It has been more than 20 years since medical science first used the term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). But that was not the first time someone had described the condition. Classical Greek and Roman mythology suggested that maternal alcoholism at the time of conception could result in serious problems for the baby. Indeed, ancient Carthage prohibited the bride and groom's drinking on their wedding night so they would not conceive a defective child.

Reports in Great Britain during the mid-1800s described infants born to alcoholic mothers as having a "starved, shriveled, and imperfect look." Yet, more recently, few gave little credence to the possibility of damage from alcohol consumed during pregnancy. In fact, in the mid-1940s a report to the U.S. Congress dismissed the idea that maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy caused any problems for the infant. As recently as the 1960s a major pediatric textbook said that alcohol crossed the placenta to the fetus, but that it did no harm.

It was these attitudes that caused one medical writer to say that the advice given so long ago to Samson's mother was "better advice" than people were then receiving (F. L. Iber, "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome," Nutrition Today, September/October 1980). Now medical textbooks no longer consider alcohol consumption during pregnancy harmless.

The surgeon general recently reported that in the U.S. at least 5,000 infants are born with FAS each year, and for every child with FAS, 10 more suffer from alcohol-related problems. FAS is the nation's leading cause of preventable mental retardation.

Although alcohol affects every fetus differently, certain facial abnormalities and other forms of physical damage recur. FAS children often experience seizures, have impaired judgment, and lack the ability to discern right from wrong.

Science recognizes no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy, and nursing babies can also be affected by the alcohol their mothers drink. Words penned in 1910 are still true today: "Every drop of strong drink taken by her [the mother] . . . endangers the physical, mental, and moral health of her child" (The Ministry of Healing, p. 373).

God's advice is always best. Is there any advice God has given in his Word that you feel convicted to follow?

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.