Proof Alliance NC; The NC Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program

PROOF ALLIANCE NC Sm 1C RGBProof Alliance NC is a statewide program funded by the SAMHSA Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment Block Grant (SAPTBG) and has been in operation since 2002. FASDinNC strives to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies by providing education, training, and resources to women of childbearing age and the professionals who serve them by increasing awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant or trying to conceive. The US Surgeon General advises pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant abstain from alcohol consumption to eliminate alcohol-exposed pregnancies, yet it is estimated 40,000 babies are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), an umbrella term describing the range of lifelong effects that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. 

The North Carolina Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program (Proof Alliance NC) is now 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. FASD is the only 100% preventable intellectual/developmental disability. Lauren Borchert will serve as the Program Coordinator and Amy Hendricks will serve as the Training Coordinator.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.  FASD is a complicated diagnosis that affects brain function, resulting in physical and intellectual disabilities that impact learning and behavior and has lifelong implications.  While FASD describes a range of effects, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a specific birth defect within the FASD diagnosis that involves distinct facial features.  Studies show that for every one (1) individual with FAS, there are ten (10) individuals on the spectrum that are equally and/or more severely impacted but do not have the facial features.  Think brain, not face.

Basic Facts

• During pregnancy there is no amount or type of alcohol consumption proven to be safe.
• Alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading known (and the only 100% preventable) cause of intellectual disabilities.
• School-based studies in North Carolina show that up to 1 in 20 school-age children may have an FASD.

Alcohol is the most widely used substance among non-pregnant and pregnant women. Alcohol use during pregnancy causes more long-term neurobehavioral damage than any other substance.
Source: NSDUH: Summary of National Findings 2015/IOM 1996

Alcohol Use Among Non-Pregnant and Pregnant Women in the United States  

• Approximately 3.3 million US women aged 15–44 years who were not pregnant and not sterile were at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy during 2011–2013.
• Among pregnant women, 1 in 9* reported alcohol use in the past 30 days, and one-third of pregnant women reported binge drinking.*
• Among pregnant women, the highest estimates of reported alcohol use were among those who were:
 -  35 - 44 years old
 -  A college graduate 
 -  Not married
Source: *Update: MMWR Weekly / April 26, 2019 / 68(16); 365–368 September 25, 2015 / 64(37); 1042-1046

Alcohol Use Among Pregnant Women (15 - 44 years) in North Carolina
• 54.9% drank alcohol three months prior to pregnancy.
• 9% drank alcohol during the last three months of pregnancy.
• 16.5% of the women who reported drinking prior to pregnancy continued drinking during pregnancy.
Source: NC PRAMS Data, 2018