Over 100 babies are born each week in Minnesota with prenatal alcohol exposure.
September is FASD Awareness Month (#FASDay) and the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is leading the way in Minnesota to increase awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant. One component of the MOFAS mission is to reduce the occurrence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) by increasing awareness and providing education, so women who are pregnant or could become pregnant know that there is no safe level of alcohol while pregnant.
FASD can only be caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Unfortunately, despite clear research and evidence about the high risk of drinking during pregnancy, many women are still confused on whether it is safe to drink while pregnant. Many women incorrectly believe that “moderation” will protect their unborn child. Or many receive a wrong or mixed message from their health care provider. The U.S. Surgeon General, Center for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all agree the safest and healthiest choice is no amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
FASD is preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant. In the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned and many times a woman does not know she is pregnant for up to 4-6 weeks after conception. While drinking at any stage of pregnancy poses risks, often it is not just how much a woman drinks, but when a woman drinks. During the narrow span of days 17-21 after conception, when many women still do not realize they’re pregnant, alcohol can alter the blueprint for a child’s face, as well as disrupt the development of the brain, spinal cord and other organs that are forming. FASD can impact children’s physical, mental, behavioral and cognitive development. The harm done to each child depends on the mother’s genetics, the child’s genetics and what part of the brain and body were developing when she drank.
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.
September 9, 2014 will mark the 15th anniversary of International FASD Awareness Day. First recognized in 1999, FASD Awareness Day was created to alert people to the importance of not drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the need to provide effective services for individuals and families impacted by these disorders. Follow all the activities at #FASDay.
MOFAS was founded in 1998 by former First Lady Susan Carlson, and is the only statewide source for trainings, information, resources and support on FASD. The mission of MOFAS is to eliminate disability caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy and to improve the life for individuals living with an FASD throughout Minnesota. For more information contact MOFAS at 651-917-2370 or toll-free 1-866-90-MOFAS (66327); 2233 University Avenue W, Suite 395, St. Paul, MN 55114; www.mofas.org.