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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month: Need to spread message about ill effects of drinking during pregnancy
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Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can result in a host of physical and behavioral disorders in infants. Physicians group such disorders under fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 3 million women in the United States carry a high risk of exposing their developing baby to the effects of alcohol. The CDC also says that up to 5 percent of school children in the country may have FASDs.

Increasing prevalence of the disorder has necessitated the dissemination of information about prenatal alcohol exposure risks and the importance of drawing attention toward FASD-affected children and adults. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) observes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month every year in September to educate women about the risks associated with drinking during pregnancy.

Global prevalence of FASD

According to a review published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in August 2017, the pervasiveness of FASD among children on a global level is 7.7 per 1,000 in the general population. The researchers collected and collated estimated prevalence of FASD among children in the general population grouped according to nations and WHO regions, and then on a global level.

Increased prevalence, to the extent of 19.8 per 1,000 population, was observed in WHO European Region, while the lowest was found in WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to the tune of 0.1 for every 1,000 people. Among the list of 187 countries under observation, South Africa was found with the greatest prevalence of FASD, followed by Croatia and others. Elucidating the widespread presence of FASD, authors of the review wrote, “The findings highlight the need to establish a universal public health message about the potential harm of prenatal alcohol exposure and a routine screening protocol. Brief interventions should be provided, where appropriate.”

Common signs of FASD

Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can impede a baby’s healthy development and is directly linked to brain damage and other problems. In fact, FASDs can be physical as well as behavioral and last for a lifetime. Some of the physiological signs of FASDs in children include:

  • unusual facial features
  • reduced body weight
  • lack of proper coordination
  • too active and disruptive behavior
  • difficulty in paying attention and low memory
  • inability to learn new skills
  • cardiovascular, kidney or bone problems

Children suffering from FASDs may show the following behavioral symptoms:

  • difficulty in learning and remembering
  • problem in perceiving directions
  • reacting to emotional triggers
  • problem in interacting with friends and loved ones
  • trouble in going about daily activities, including eating and bathing

Seeking treatment for alcohol addiction

FASDs are preventable if women abstain from drinking during pregnancy. Information shared by the CDC indicates that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy must be considered safe as opposed to some studies suggesting that light drinking does not cause much harm to a pregnant woman. Usually, physicians advise that pregnant women should not drink at all.

If a woman is addicted to alcohol, she should seek medical treatment before planning a baby. A pioneer among alcohol rehab facilities for women, Sovereign Health of Arizona takes a holistic view toward addiction treatment and combines traditional therapies to help its patients treat dependence on alcohol and maintain life-long sobriety. For more information about our women only alcohol program, call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with one of our representatives for further assistance.

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