Women Reminded of Health Risks with Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

An Estimated 40,000 Newborns Are Affected Each Year by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Deputy Secretary Cheryl Dondero started off Pennsylvania’s annual fetal alcohol spectrum disorder awareness event today at Butler Memorial Hospital by reminding Pennsylvanians of the dangers associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The event, which was open today to both health professionals and the general public, occurs each September in observance of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month.

“FASD is 100 percent preventable, yet an estimated 40,000 babies are born with FASD each year,” Dondero said. “This troubling and alarming number demonstrates the importance and need for continued education about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.”

FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in children exposed to alcohol during fetal development. Alcohol use during pregnancy can be devastating on the life of an unborn child, causing possible physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.

Various studies have shown there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy. Alcohol has more harmful long-term effects to an unborn child than heroin or cocaine. Most individuals do not realize that even one binge-drinking episode can result in permanent damage to the fetus. 

The event’s keynote speakers shared their personal FASD testimonies. Dianne O’Connor, a certified FASD trainer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shared her experience raising children with FASD. Jasmine Suarez-O’Connor, a founding and current staff member for the Arc Self Advocates with FASD in Action, shared her experience living with FASD.

A variety of human service, behavioral health, early education, drug and alcohol treatment organizations and health providers were on-site to provide educational and service information to those in attendance.

Governor Tom Corbett recently signed a proclamation, declaring September as FASD Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. FASD Awareness Day is observed nationally and around the world today, Sept. 9.

For more information about FASD, visit http://www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov.

For more information about DDAP, visit http://www.ddap.pa.gov.