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Snooki – Our Jersey Girl as a Public Health Role Model?

Originally published November 5, 2012.

Unless you live under a rock and don’t go out at all, you have to know that Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is a mom!

Her baby boy, Lorenzo, was born this August. Snooki has been showing him off in beautiful pics on her official Twitter and Facebook feed.

Snooki became famous as a fightin’ boozin’ bad-girl with her group of pals on the show, Jersey Shore. Millions scrutinized her as she rumbled with her frenemies living in their Jersey shore rental house, partying it up, just like the rest of us Jersey-ites did as twenty-somethings (say what???).

The partying had a dark side and her struggle with alcohol and fame began. She was reported arriving intoxicated to the set of Jersey Shore; she was arrested for disorderly conduct at Seaside, and she spent much of the Jersey crowd’s taping in Italy drinking plenty of that famous Italian wine; she actually ran into a police car while there!

Then, Snooki became pregnant. A change came over her. The non-stop party girl settled down. A strong friendship with her cast-mate, Jennifer “Jwoww” Farley became obvious. And her fiance, Jionni Lavalle, supported her solidly throughout the pregnancy.

The protective mom got wise quickly. In June 2012, she moved out of the group Jersey Shore house, so she wouldn’t be around people who drink. During an appearance with her fiance, Jionni, on Good Morning America, she said she needed to get away from being around people who drink. She said, “I’m afraid of how it will make me feel, I’ll feel like I’m missing something.”

More power to Snooki for recognizing the obvious and avoidable trigger known to set off a craving for alcohol: external triggers of people, places, things, or times of day that remind you of drinking. In order to protect her baby, she made a conscious decision to avoid the activities that involved drinking, to avoid the chance it could’ve made her give in to an urge and drink.

Many women give up drinking alcohol when they become pregnant. In 2009, Patricia Harrison and Abbey Sidebottom studied 1,492 women who became pregnant. While 43% reported the use of alcohol while not-pregnant, only 6% reported they drank alcohol after becoming pregnant and 24% reported non-medical drug use. Higher rates of unsafe alcohol and drug use during pregnancy are associated with depression, abuse victimization, domestic violence, poverty and certain cultural mores. Higher rates of cessation needs to be coupled with education/treatment for mental health and psychosocial stressors.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. The alcohol quickly passes through the placenta and into the baby’s body. Although mom’s body can metabolize the alcohol via her liver, the baby’s body cannot do so.

There are multiple birth defects associated with drinking while pregnant. These include:

  • heart defects

  • preterm labor

  • low birth-weight

  • fetal alcohol syndrome

  • learning disabilities

  • speech & language delays

  • fetal alcohol syndrome

The good news is that you can avoid exposing your baby to these consequences by avoiding alcohol while pregnant.

Take a cue from our Jersey girl:

For baby’s best, give up the high test!

Harrison, P. A., & Sidebottom, A. C. (2009). Alcohol and Drug Use Before and During Pregnancy: An Examination of Use Patterns and Predictors of Cessation. Maternal & Child Health Journal, 13(3), 386-394. doi:10.1007/s10995-008-0355-z


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