Abstinence from alcohol protects fetus

Sept. 9 will be the 15th International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day. FASD Awareness Day was created to alert people to the importance of abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy and the need to provide effective services for individuals and families impacted by these disorders.

Birth defects that come under the umbrella of FASD are 100 percent preventable. When a pregnant woman ingests alcohol, so does her fetus. Alcohol is a poisonous drug and in any amount or any kind does irreparable damage to the fetus. This damage may range from a slight learning problem to severe retardation and physical deformities. It can also cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.

Yet, a recent study involving focus groups of childbearing-age women published in the American Journal of Health Education showed that women acknowledged the risks and consequences of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but many held common misconceptions.

Some women thought it alright to continue consuming alcohol until the pregnancy was confirmed. Some thought it OK to drink certain kinds of alcohol and that drinking during the third trimester (last three months) was not harmful. Others thought that drinking small amounts of alcohol was acceptable and some said their health care providers agreed that it was OK to drink small amounts.

Other study findings were: That a woman’s partner, family and friends influence her use of alcohol during pregnancy; that women rely on the Internet and health care providers for information about the risks of alcohol consumption; and the information received is not always consistent or accurate.

Every child deserves a healthy start and that happens in its mother’s womb.

For accurate information about FASD, people may visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/fasd or www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/.

For information about alcohol and pregnancy, visit www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/fasd/alcohol-use.html or www.nofas.org/.

If you or a friend need help with drug or alcohol related issues, call 877-846-7369 for available help in your area.

DOREAN PAGE, credentialed

prevention professional

HFM Prevention Council