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Prevention Presents: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Ashley Rodebaugh, M.A.
Prevention Education Specialist 

Each year, 1 in 750 babies in the United States will be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), and another 40,000 will be born with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). These abnormalities in babies are caused when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Generally, a baby born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects may have more profound issues than a baby born addicted to heroin, cocaine, or other illegal street drugs. Furthermore, the issues associated with FAS or FAE last a lifetime. Possible characteristics of a person with FAS or FAE may include:

  • low birth weight
  • small head circumference
  • failure to thrive
  • developmental delay
  • organ dysfunction
  • facial abnormalities (These abnormalities are pretty typical for people with FAS)
    • smaller eye opening
    • flattened cheekbones
    • indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip)
  • epilepsy
  • poor coordination
  • poor fine motor skills
  • poor socialization skills
    • difficulty making and keeping friends
    • difficulty relating to others
  • lack of imagination or curiosity
  • learning difficulties
    • poor memory
    • inability to understand concepts such as time and money
    • poor language comprehension
    • poor problem-solving skills
  • behavioral problems
    • hyperactivity
    • inability to concentrate
    • social withdrawal
    • stubbornness
    • impulsiveness
    • anxiety

Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects is quite easy. If you are trying to conceive or know you are pregnant, completely abstain from drinking alcohol.  Many campaigns even say “NOT ONE DROP,” meaning, not even one drop of alcohol should be consumed while pregnant.  This is because, despite a great deal of knowledge about FAS and FAE, we do not know exactly how much alcohol is TOO MUCH alcohol.  What we do know is that anything a pregnant women consumes is in turn consumed by her unborn fetus.  Studies have shown that unborn babies exposed to alcohol while in the womb have a hard time getting rid of alcohol, so its effects lasts much longer.  This long-term exposure could lead to FAS or FAE, especially if the mother is a chronic drinker and consumes alcohol on regular or daily basis.   

Abstaining from alcohol is key in preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects in your unborn baby.  If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and may be pregnant, please contact Harbor at 419-475-4449 and ask for the AOD department. 

If you would like to know more about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects, please visit http://www.nofas.org/.


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Lock the Cabinet
Dee Washington, M.Ed. OCPS I
Manager, Prevention Education



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