In recognition of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health today reminded women about the serious implications of drinking while pregnant.
“Studies show that 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and many women consume alcohol before they realize they are pregnant,” Deputy Secretary Janice Kopelman said during an event hosted by Gaudenzia’s Vantage House for Women. “Women of childbearing age need to be aware of how drinking can affect an unborn child. It is extremely important for women to monitor their alcohol use if they are able to conceive children.”
Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading cause of preventable birth defects and developmental difficulties in children including growth deficits; mental retardation; heart, lung and kidney defects; specific facial characteristics; hyperactivity and behavior problems; attention and memory problems; and learning disabilities. The range of effects caused by maternal alcohol use during pregnancy is collectively referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.
“The effects of these disorders are far reaching and serious and yet, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is 100 percent preventable,” added Kopleman. “We need to continue to educate and inform individuals about this disorder.”
Health care service providers offered prevention and intervention information during the event. In addition, Bloomsburg University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and various state and county agencies are joining the department to promote broader public awareness of this disorder
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