For the last 5+ years, I have been writing blogs for the SMH website. For the first time, in a long time, a topic and article has come out about something I don’t know much about or I don’t see a lot of in my professional life: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term used to describe a broad array of conditions an individual can have as a result of their birth mother drinking alcohol during the pregnancy. Symptoms and conditions can range from mild to severe and include a combination of learning, behavioral, physical and emotional issues that occur as a result of the alcohols effect on the fetus’ brain and other organs while developing.
The exact number of babies and children that are affected by FASD isn’t easily determined, but the CDC estimates anywhere from 800-8000 babies in the U.S. each year could be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. While some experts say that number could be as high as 40,000 a year in the U.S. Significantly more work is needed in the area of diagnosing and estimating the prevalence.
One thing that is known for sure, FASD is 100 percent avoidable if a pregnant woman abstains from drinking alcohol during the entire pregnancy. There is no “safe” amount to drink, no “safe” alcoholic beverage that can be consumed and no cure for FASD. It’s just not worth the risk!
Diagnosing FASDs can be a challenge because there isn’t a single or simple test that can cover the broad range of signs and symptoms related to FASD. A pediatric medical home provider and/or other developmental specialists usually diagnosis after one or more appropriate evaluations.
Women are encouraged to discuss alcohol consumption with their providers so they can understand the risks and make informed choices about the health and wellbeing of their baby.