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September is FASD awareness month

The addictions prevention team at Beacon Light Behavioral Health System is highlighting Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders awareness month in September to increase community education about the risks associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Based upon the number of births in Pennsylvania, the rate of children born with an FASD could range between 3,983 and 6,830. Calculated on a daily basis, 11-19 Pennsylvania children begin their lives with an FASD every day.1

In addition, the U.S. Surgeon General advises pregnant women, and those considering becoming pregnant to abstain from alcohol consumption. The goal is to eliminate alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Despite this warning an estimated 40,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year with FASD. The term FASD is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol before birth.

Growing babies in the womb are exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as their mother. No amount of alcohol is known to be safe for developing babies. Exposure to alcohol is never safe for developing babies, at any stage of pregnancy. FASDs are completely preventable. To keep the developing baby safe, the mother should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

FASDs can have an impact on children’s physical, mental, behavioral, or cognitive development. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is characterized by growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities, and specific facial characteristics. This is only the most visible of the spectrum of disorders that make up FASDs. Prenatal alcohol use is associated with increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as lifelong physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities.

How can FASDs be prevented? Mothers should make a plan for a healthy baby. They should NOT drink alcohol while pregnant or if they could become pregnant. Stop drinking immediately when becoming pregnant.

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