The Fayette County Health Department is joining the cause to increase awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant.
The U.S. Surgeon General advises pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant to abstain from alcohol consumption to eliminate alcohol-exposed pregnancies, yet it is estimated that 40,000 babies are born each year with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol before birth.
A growing baby is exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as the mother during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol use is known to be safe for a developing baby before birth. Exposure to alcohol from any type of beverage, including beer and wine, is unsafe for developing babies at every stage of pregnancy. FASDs are completely preventable if a developing baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth.
FASDs can impact a child’s physical, mental, behavioral, or cognitive development. The most visible condition along the continuum of FASDs, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), is characterized by growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities, and specific facial characteristics. The number of children born with FAS alone is comparable to spina bifida or Down syndrome. Prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-maturity and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.
To prevent FASDs: make a plan for a healthy baby – don’t drink any alcohol if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. A woman often does not know she is pregnant for up to four to six weeks after conception. In the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
If you become pregnant, stop drinking alcohol. Every day matters. Because brain growth takes place throughout pregnancy, the sooner a woman stops drinking the safer it will be for her and her baby. If you need help stopping, talk to your doctor, contact an addiction specialist or contact Alcoholics Anonymous.
Human service organizations, health care professionals, educators, and the public are called to action to work together to reduce the occurrence of FASDs by increasing awareness, becoming educated, and disseminating the message that women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant should abstain from alcohol.
For more information on alcohol use during pregnancy and FASDs, visit www.nofas.org or www.cdc.gov/fasd. You may also call the Fayette County Health Department at 740-335-5910.