September 9th (9/9) is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day to remind women to
avoid alcohol during the 9 months of pregnancy. FASDs are caused by alcohol use during pregnancy and are 100% preventable.
Estimates are that FASD affects up to 5 in 100 newborns. In Utah, 3% of women report drinking alcohol in last 3 months of pregnancy, affecting approximately 1,500 births each year. There is no known safe level of alcohol use. Daily alcohol use and binge drinking increase the risk of FASD.
Some of the risks of alcohol use include:
- birth defects (facial features such as a smooth philtrum (space between upper lip and nose) and thin upper lip
- heart defects
- skeletal defects (growth deficiencies)
- developmental delays
- attention deficits
- learning disabilities
- poor judgment (difficulty understanding right and wrong).
FASD is difficult to diagnose, especially when the person does not have symptoms and the mother’s alcohol use in pregnancy is unknown. There is no cure and life-long treatment, interventions, and supports are needed to address related symptoms such as inappropriate behaviors.