What: Awareness events in communities around the world educate
everyone about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the challenges faced by affected children, teens, and adults.
Where: FASD Awareness Day will be celebrated in Tucson, Arizona, with a bell ringing ceremony at St. Augustine's Cathedral (192 S. Stone, north courtyard) at 9:09 a.m. followed by a "BREAK FASD" of sweet rolls and coffee in the courtyard patio at the church. There will be an Open House from Noon until 2 pm. with a public presentation at the FAS Community Resource Center at 4710 E. 29th St. in Tucson, Arizona. Children are welcome!
Why: In 1973, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was first formally identified and named as a disorder by researchers at Washington State University. Thirty years later, the rate of heavy drinking during pregnancy, after a sharp rise in the early '90s, has not declined. (SAMHSA) One out of every five pregnant mothers consumes alcohol. One out of every 20 babies are born to mothers who drink heavily during pregnancy.
Alcohol causes permanent brain damage that lasts throughout the baby's life time, resulting in learning disabilities, attention deficits, and behavior disorders that make it very difficult for an individual to function in life.
Some children have mental retardation. Others have normal intelligence, but are immature and do not have good social skills, lack impulse control and have poor judgment. They are at high risk of dropping out of school, getting into trouble with the law, and maintaining jobs and relationships. There is a high risk of abuse of alcohol and other drugs (50%-70% in adults with Fetal Alcohol Effects), and of engaging in risky sexual behavior, and placing another generation of babies at risk of exposure to alcohol that could result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Recent studies indicate that one in every 100 children are born with alcohol effects. About 10% are recognized and diagnosed as FAS. The other 90% have invisible forms of FASD, with normal IQ and normal appearance, but with brain damage that interferes with their ability to function successfully in life. (Streissguth 1996)
More babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) than Down Syndrome, HIV, and Spina Bifida combined. There are 5,000 babies born in the U.S. every year with full FAS, and approximately 35,000 more babies born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). (March of Dimes)
According to prevalence expert Dr. Larry Burd of the University of North Dakota, there may be as many as 750 babies born each year in Arizona with alcohol related disorders. Of the estimated 44,000 affected individuals in the state, 13,000 are children, and 10,000 of them are in the foster care system. The annual costs to Arizonans for educating children with FASD in the special education system and the juvenile justice system are estimated at more than $20 million. The lifetime cost for one child with FAS could be as much as $5 million.
Please remember that alcohol is a drug. It is believed that alcohol poses a greater risk to our youth today than any other drug. As for the unborn child, alcohol causes more damage to the baby's developing brain than any other drug. (Institute of Health Report to Congress 1996).
There is no cure for FASD, but alcohol related birth disorders are theoretically 100% preventable.
Ideas for Awareness Day events in your community:
FASD Awareness Day in the USA: