Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Healthy Habits: FASD

September is FASD Awareness Month. To mark this occasion, the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is leading the way on increasing awareness of the importance of pre-conception health and planned pregnancies, educating about the danger of alcohol during pregnancy, and helping to reducing the stigma around Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
FASD is a range of effects that occur when a developing baby is prenatally exposed to alcohol. Despite myths, there is no scientific evidence available that sets a “safe” amount of alcohol that will not affect the developing fetus. The U.S. Surgeon General, the Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all advise pregnant women and women who could become pregnant, to abstain completely from alcohol during  pregnancy. An estimated 5,367 babies are born each year in Minnesota with some level of prenatal alcohol exposure. That is over 100 babies born each week with potential brain damage and life-long struggles that could have been prevented. 
In reality, most pregnant women do not drink in order to intentionally cause harm to their children.  MOFAS encourages all pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant to remember 049 – zero alcohol for nine months. In Minnesota, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and many women do not know they are pregnant for up to 4 to 6 weeks after conception. If a woman is drinking alcohol during pregnancy, it is never too late to stop drinking.  Brain growth takes place throughout pregnancy, so the sooner a woman stops drinking the safer it will be for her and her baby. If a woman cannot stop drinking, MOFAS encourages them to get help through a health care provider, local Alcoholics Anonymous, or other local treatment center.  MOFAS educates and supports health care providers to ask every woman, every time about their alcohol use and provide information on FASD as part of preventive medicine. 

For more information on alcohol use during pregnancy and a month long series of activities and events by MOFAS to create awareness and educate people on FASD, go to
www.mofas.org or #FASDay.

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