Be aware of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Letter to the editor

By The Staff

Sept. 9 was set aside for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder Awareness. As a mother of children affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder I would like to share some statistics with you about FASD.

If a woman avoids alcohol for the entire nine months of pregnancy, she has prevented the leading known cause of mental retardation in the United States: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Many women stop drinking as soon as they find out they are pregnant, but alcohol can affect an unborn baby even before a woman knows she’s pregnant. The developing brain is highly vulnerable to the poisonous effects of alcohol at every stage of pregnancy ee" even the last trimester. There is simply no “safe” amount of alcohol consumption possible when pregnant. A mother’s liver must empty alcohol out of her liver before the unborn baby’s tiny liver can eliminate alcohol, therefore ensuring that the baby holds the alcohol in its system longer than the mother.

Statistically, over 39,000 Kentucky citizens are affected by FASD. Babies with FASD grow into adults with FASD, which means that many families face a lifelong struggle to help their loved ones find supportive education, housing and social networks. Each of these families have their own story to tell. People in our community today are living with the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure, a disability that is preventable. Kentucky is doing a good job of getting the word out to places that sell alcohol by letting women of childbearing age know that alcohol could affect an unborn infant. However, I hope that in the future they will consider letting these women know that alcohol consumption will affect an unborn child.

There are a few simple things you can do:

Make sure that all your friends, family, teenagers and colleagues know that there is no safe time, no safe type and no safe amount of alcohol if a woman is pregnant or could become pregnant.

Make sure that your local physicians know that you support them in giving a clear no-alcohol message to pregnant women in your community.

Learn everything that you can about this issue, and be an advocate for women, kids and families.

For more information, contact Kentucky’s FASD Prevention Enhancement Site at Lmnagle@bluegrass.org or 859-624-3622.

Kay Upton

Adoption Support for Kentucky