Pennsylvania Urges Awareness, Prevention Of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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Pennsylvania Department of Healthofficials today recognized Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)Awareness Week at the state Capitol and discussed efforts to preventthe disorder that can occur in children whose mothers consume alcoholduring pregnancy.

FASD is an umbrella term that describesthe nation's leading category of preventable birth defects anddevelopmental disabilities. The effects of FASD can include: growthdeficits; mental retardation; heart, lung and kidney defects;specific facial characteristics; hyperactivity and behavior problems;attention and memory problems; and learning disabilities.

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"FASD affects one out of every 100births in this country � � " that's more than spina bifida, Downsyndrome and muscular dystrophy combined," said Joanne Grossi,Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. "Thegood news is that FASD is preventable and the Health Department isworking hard to spread that message."

Pennsylvania is examining new ways toaddress FASD through prevention activities, education, increasingpublic awareness, collaboration with other agencies andcommunity-based organizations, and coordination of services. Inaddition to focusing on preventing new occurrences of FASD,Pennsylvania will also consider services that assist individuals withFASD disorders and their families.

The Health Department's Bureau of Drugand Alcohol Programs has convened an FASD task force that meets eachquarter to develop a statewide plan focused on awareness, education,prevention and treatment of FASD in Pennsylvania. Task force membersinclude parents of FASD patients, advocates, state agencies,physicians, health and human service providers, nurses, andgovernment policy makers.

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