Did you know that the month of September is recognized as International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness (FASD) month? We’ve all been told that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can adversely impact the unborn fetus. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office first issued the warning back in July 1981.
Our guest blogger for the month is Glenda Knight, MA, Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Glenda is the manager for our local Project LINK. She has more than 25-years experience working with military families, homeless women, and those with behavioral health conditions. For the past eight years, Glenda has specialized in substance abuse services for women with an emphasis on pregnancy and postpartum.
What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD?
When a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, so does her baby! But how is alcohol transmitted to the unborn child? The alcohol will pass through the mother’s blood stream to the placenta and then to the fetus through the umbilical cord.
According, to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of health effects that can occur in an individual prenatally exposed to alcohol.
The effects of maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can result in the following for early childhood development and throughout the life span:
- abnormal facial characteristics,
- growth deficits,
- brain damage resulting in intellectual disabilities,
- heart, lung, and kidney defects,
- behavioral problems,
- attention and memory problems,
- poor coordination and motor skills delay,
- difficulties with judgement and reasoning, and
- learning disabilities.
There are some women who drank regularly during their pregnancy and delivered healthy babies who had no adverse effects from alcohol. On the other end of the spectrum there are women who drank very little alcohol and their children had serious health conditions.
While each pregnancy is different, the way to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. The above mentioned conditions might be preventable if women abstain from consuming alcohol in pregnancy.
It takes a village to raise a child. If you have concerns about your child’s development, we would love to be a part of your village! Remember, Babies Can’t Wait! Contact Project Link or the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/