Awareness Month: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Cathy Brownfield

Proof exists that alcohol use, and misuse, has increased over the months that everyone has been trying to cope with Covid. There are some people who should not use alcohol at all: those who are underage, who use over-the-counter or prescription medications, have certain medical conditions, can’t control the amount of alcohol they drink, those recovering from AUD (alcohol use disorder), and pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant, advises George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) he best medical information available for the user’s well-being.

            September is FASD Awareness Month in the United States. There are some important facts about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder that Family Recovery Center would like to share with you.

            “FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol before birth,” explains Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS).

  • No amount of alcohol use is safe for a developing baby before birth. The brain develops throughout pregnancy.
  • A developing baby is exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as the pregnant mother.
  • An estimated 40,000 babies are born with FASD each year, and can result in birth defects, learning disabilities and behavior problems. These disorders are a lifetime condition. There is no fix, no cure. Prevention is necessary. Don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy.

OhioMHAS says, “FASDs impact a child’s physical, mental, behavior or cognitive development. The most visible condition along the continuum of FASDs, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is characterized by growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities, and specific facial characteristics. The number of children born with FAS alone is comparable to spina bifida or Down Syndrome.”

But FAS can be prevented by not consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

There are safety concerns for the pregnant woman, as well. “Prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with increased risk of miscarriage, still birth, prematurity and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),” says OhioMHAS.

Also, the NIAAA notes the effects of alcohol on the immune system, interfering with the body’s immune response to viral and bacterial infections, which increases the risk of respiratory illness, which could contribute to a more serious episode of Covid-19 or even death.

For more information about alcohol misuse, and the effects of alcohol on the unborn, you can visit any of these sources on the web. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping yourself informed by reliable sources that can help you make better choices, of being proactive in your health care and well-being. The best source of reliable information is your primary health care provider who knows you, knows the state of your health, and can advise you what he or she thinks is best for you.

            Family Recovery Center provides support for military personnel, veterans and their families, offering a wide range of comprehensive care options to address the needs for both mental health and addiction-related problems. The goal is to give back to those who have sacrificed so much of their lives by helping them to cope and readjust to civilian life. If you or a loved one is struggling, please contact us at 330-424-1468.

  About  Alcohol