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International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day (FASD).

September 9th is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day (FASD). FASD is caused by the consumption of alcohol by a mother while she is pregnant. An estimated 40,000 babies each year are born with FASD, which can result in birth defects, learning disabilities, problem behavior, and trouble learning life skills. These difficulties can last an entire lifetime for a child, and can’t always be treated.

The first official awareness day was September 9th, 1999, chosen because birth takes nine months from conception to delivery, all of which a mother needs to abstain from alcohol to keep their child safe. There is no safe amount of alcohol for a mother during pregnancy, and that includes the small glass of wine with dinner or a glass of champagne at a celebration. All types of alcohol are equally harmful to the developing baby, whether it is beer or wine, or shots of vodka and mixed drinks. There is no safe type or amount of alcohol for the developing child, unless that amount is absolutely nothing. The alcohol travels through the mother’s blood into the placenta and the umbilical cord which causes growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities, and is the most preventable cause of intellectual difficulties. It also hinders the baby’s cognitive development beyond the physical effects. The most known of the diseases on the spectrum is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which affects as many infants each year as either Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida.

For expecting mothers, it is important to abstain from alcohol as soon as you discover you are pregnant.. Most women are not aware they are pregnant until 4 to 6 weeks after conception, making it important to stop drinking alcohol if you think there is even a possibility of pregnancy. Even though you may not be aware you are pregnant, the alcohol still can reach the baby. If you are unable to stop drinking or having difficulty surrounding alcohol, contact your health care provider, a local Alcoholics Anonymous group, or a local alcohol treatment center for assistance.

For more information about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day visit http://www.frfasd.org/fasdday.html. or contact the Herkimer County Prevention Council at (315)894-9917. Remember, when a mother drinks an alcoholic beverage, so does the baby.