September 9 was Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day
September 9 was the International FASD Awareness Day. This initiative was started on Septmber 9, 1999 (9/9/99) at 9:09 am and is now being observed all over the world. It aims to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the plight of patients and their families who struggle with FAS and FASD.
So let’s refresh our knowledge of FASD and FAS.
Although in existent since the existence of alcoholic drinks, FAS was only officially identified as a disorder in 1973 by researchers at Washington State University. That was 35 years ago. Scientific knowledge of the condition has increased but the incidence of FAS continues to rise. Some of the recent statistics are:
- 1 in every 100 babies are born with fetal alcohol effects (FAE)- “bottle in their blood”, so to speak.
- About 10% of these cases are diagnosed early as overt forms of FAS.
- 90% are diagnosed with asymptomatic forms of FASD that can manifest later in life.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, FASD is the term applied to all problems that result from fetal exposure to alcohol in the womb. FAS occurs when a pregnant woman consumes high doses of alcohol. FAE occurs when low to moderate amounts of alcohol are consumed during pregnancy. According to Medline Plus Encyclopedia, the FAS manifests as:
- Mental retardation
- Birth defects
- Abnormal facial features
- Growth problems
- Problems with the central nervous system
- Trouble remembering and/or learning
- Vision or hearing problems
- Behavior problems
Signs of FAE are similar to FAS but may manifest in milder forms.
The sad news is that symptoms of FAS and FAE are all irreversible, untreatable and will last for a lifetime.
The good news is that FAS, FAE and FASD are 100% preventable and prevention is clear and simple – complete abstinence during pregnancy!