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SITKA - International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day takes place on Tuesday, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Behavioral Health Department would like to remind people that FASD is 100-percent preventable.
FASD is an umbrella term that describes a variety of conditions that happen to children whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASD refers to as many as 256 different conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol effects, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder and alcohol-related birth defects. The effects of FASD can cause physical, mental, behavioral or learning disabilities with lifelong implications, such as school failure, juvenile delinquency, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness and crime.
FASD effects happen early in the pregnancy, and many women don't realize they are pregnant until they are six or more weeks into it. For example, FAS facial features (small eyes, smooth philtrum, thin upper lip) are formed within the first 18-21 days, Ric Iannolino, Juneau FASD Diagnostic Clinic Coordinator, said. Not every child exposed to alcohol develops fetal alcohol syndrome, but prenatal drinking can lead to a variety of other behavioral problems among children, Iannolino said.
"There is no safe amount of alcohol any time during pregnancy," said Marilyn Lande, SEARHC Neurodevelopmental Team Coordinator for the SEARHC Haa Toowóo Náakw Hít Behavioral Health Clinic in Sitka. "If you are pregnant, don't drink. If you drink, don't get pregnant."
For more information about FASD prevention, screening and treatment, please contact Marilyn Lande at 907-966-8815 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Juneau FASD Diagnostic Clinic, which is run by the Central Council of the Tlingít and Haida Indians of Alaska and hosts monthly clinics at the SEARHC Ethel Lund Medical Center, contact Ric Iannolino at 463-7373, by e-mail at email@example.com or go to http://www.ccthita.org/TFYS-FASD.htm. For more information about International FASD Awareness Day, go to http://www.fasday.com.