September is FASD Awareness Month

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to a range of effects including physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can occur if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. Many people are not aware of the disorder as it does receive much attention.

In July 2020, The Arc of North Carolina announced The North Carolina Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program (FASDinNC) is a part of The Arc of North Carolina’s Advocacy division. The program will increase the number of trained Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) educators across the state, as well as spreading the No Safe Amount/No Safe Time message to women of child-bearing age across the state.

“It’s important for women of childbearing age to understand the dangers of drinking while pregnant,” said Lauren Borchert, Program Coordinator, FASDinNC. “FASD is a developmental disorder that is 100% preventable.”

In North Carolina, 55% of women drank alcohol before becoming pregnant and 16% continued drinking during pregnancy. This means an estimated 19,600 babies are born in NC with alcohol exposure each year. Studies show that up to 1 in 20 U.S. school children may have an FASD, a rate that is higher than autism.

During pregnancy, a developing baby is exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as the pregnant woman. No amount of alcohol use is known to be safe for a developing baby. Exposure to any type of alcohol, including beer and wine, can impact brain development, impacting an individual for a lifetime.

The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and 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. FASD is completely preventable if a developing baby is not exposed to alcohol before birth.

To prevent FASD:

• If you can become pregnant, talk with your care provider about preventing an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

• If you are a health care provider, take every opportunity to have conversations with patients about alcohol use before and during pregnancy.

Pregnant women that need assistance stopping their alcohol consumption can talk to their doctor/midwife or reach out to the Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina at
1-800-688-4232 for support.

For more information on preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and FASD, visit www.fasdinnc.org, www.nofas.org, www.proofalliance.org, or www.cdc.gov/fasd.