Recognizing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Week

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To help people learn about preventable birth defects associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy, the Department of Health today launched “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Week.”

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, is an umbrella term that describes the nation’s leading category of preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities that include: fetal alcohol syndrome; partial fetal alcohol syndrome; alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder; and alcohol-related birth defects.

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The effects of FASD can include growth deficits; mental retardation; heart, lung and kidney defects; specific facial characteristics; hyperactivity and behavior problems; attention and memory problems; and learning disabilities.

“Although it is 100 percent preventable, FASD still affects one-out-of-every-100 births nationwide,” said Acting Health Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Janice Kopelman. “Women must remember that it is very important to avoid drinking any alcohol if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.”

While alcohol consumption causes problems throughout the pregnancy, it can cause difficulties in the early weeks of pregnancy before a woman may know that she is pregnant.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Week event today included an expo of health care service providers offering prevention and intervention information. In addition, various state and county agencies are joining the department to promote broader public awareness of this important topic.

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