When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol, so does her unborn child.
Despite warnings from experts and volumes of scientific/medical research providing compelling evidence for mothers not to drink during pregnancy, one in 100 babies born in Ohio suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – a wide range of permanent, life-altering physical, mental and social effects. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, FASD is the leading known cause of preventable mental and birth defects.
Recognizing the gravity of FASD and the impact it has on affected children and their families, Gov. John Kasich designated September as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness and Prevention Month.
Melinda Slusser, superintendent of the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities, indicates that awareness is an important first step to preventing FASD. “FASD is 100 percent preventable,” she said. “Awareness can be one of the most deciding factors in bringing about positive change.”
Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant need to know that no amount of alcohol is safe – not a single drop.
According to SAMHSA’s 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10.6 percent of pregnant women age 15 to 44 reported current alcohol use. In addition, 4.5 percent reported binge drinking, which is four or more drinks in a row, and 0.8 percent reported heavy drinking. The number of women who engaged in binge drinking during the first trimester of pregnancy more than doubled in comparison to the previous survey period.
To help increase awareness of FASD and its lifelong effects, in 2003, the State of Ohio created a task force comprised of several state agencies, prevention professionals, educators and parents or caregivers of children with FASD.
The task force promotes abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy to prevent FASD, urging women not to drink a single drop.
Locally, the Ottawa County Board of DD Early Intervention & Help Me Grow Program will be raising awareness by presenting “Not a Single Drop” to students of the Family & Consumer Science Class at Oak Harbor High School.
For more information and resources about FASD, visit Ohio’s FASD initiative Web site at www.notasingledrop.org.