Every year an estimated 40,000 newborns are born with a 100 percent preventable disorder, a disorder that has numerous long lasting health effects, according to the Herkimer County Prevention Council.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder treatment and care costs the United States an estimated $4 billion annually, according to the Prevention Council.
September 9 is international Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day and it’s the perfect time to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, according to the Prevention Council.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder describes a range of effects that occur when an individual is prenatally exposed to alcohol. It is the leading cause of intellectual disability, and can also impact a child’s physical, mental, behavioral and cognitive development, according to the Prevention Council. The most commonly seen characteristics of FASD are growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities and facial deformities.
A University of Washington study of people with FASD between the ages of 6 to 51 found 94 percent had mental health problems, 83 percent of adults experienced dependent living, 79 percent of adults had employment problems, 60 percent of those 12 and older had trouble with the law, 43 percent had disrupted school experiences and 24 percent of adolescents, 46 percent of adults and 35 percent overall had alcohol and drug problems.
It is critical to continue to educate women on the importance of refraining from alcohol while pregnant or trying to become pregnant as we are learning that women’s drinking is at an all time high, according to the Prevention Council. According to a health survey, the number of women arrested for drunk driving between 1998 and 2007 rose 30 percent and the number of young women who showed up in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated rose by 52 percent. In the United States, 1 in 30 pregnant women have reported high-risk drinking (defined as seven or more drinks per week or five or more drinks on any one occasion). More than 1 in 5 pregnant women report alcohol use in their first trimester, 1 in 14 in their second trimester and 1 in 20 in their third trimester.
Recently there has been much confusion on what is a safe level of alcohol while pregnant, according to the Prevention Council. The U.S. surgeon general warns women that there has been no definitive study to conclude that any amount of alcohol is safe for a fetus and the only way to guarantee the prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is to abstain from alcohol while pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
For more information contact the Herkimer County Prevention Council a program of Catholic Charities at 894-9917, ext. 242, or go to their website at www.herkimercountyprevention.org