Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

September 9th is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day

September 8, 2012

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Urges Women to Abstain from Alcohol During Pregnancy Due to the Risk of Birth Defects

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of developmental disabilities and birth defects in America. Representing the nine months of pregnancy the ninth day of the ninth month–September 9(th)–is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day and serves as an important reminder that alcohol-related birth defects are completely preventable when pregnant women abstain from alcohol.

FASD describes the range of potentially lifelong physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

Because no amount of alcohol can be considered safe during pregnancy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Surgeon General advise that, “A pregnant woman, or a woman who is considering becoming pregnant, should abstain from alcohol,” and, “A pregnant woman who has already consumed alcohol should stop in order to minimize the risk.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, supports science to understand how alcohol interferes with fetal development and how FASD can be identified and prevented.

“Research tells us that while heavy and binge drinking during pregnancy pose the greatest risk, moderate and light drinking is linked to stillbirth, problems with attention and judgment, and poor social skills. The challenge is to overcome the mixed messages and misconceptions about the risk of light drinking. No amount is completely safe, why take the risk?” says Tom Donaldson, president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).

NOFAS serves as a resource for individuals and families living with FASD and seeks to prevent the disorder. NOFAS vice president Kathy Mitchell reflects on the unfair stigma surrounding women who do drink, “I’ve never met a woman who intentionally harmed her child by drinking. Either they didn’t know they were pregnant, they may have been misinformed of the risk by their doctor or the media, or they need and deserve treatment for alcohol dependence.”

NIAAA acting director Dr. Ken Warren sums it up, “The message is simple, not just on September 9, but every day. Women who are, who may be, or who are trying to become pregnant, should not drink alcohol.”

Tom Donaldson

SOURCE National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Source: PR Newswire