What Is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?
FASD is an umbrella term describing a range of effects that can occur in a child exposed in utero to alcohol. FASD is a major cause of learning disabilities, school failure, homelessness, and unemployment. They are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.
- Each year as many as 40,000 babies are born with FASD in the U.S.
- The majority of those affected show few, if any, physical signs of disability.
- Because some symptoms are similar, FASD is commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
- FASD is more prevalent than autism, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida combined.
- Thousands of adults are living with this disorder today, including many of whom have never been diagnosed. They fall between the cracks and are unable to access services or supports of any kind.
Cause of FASD:
It’s simple. FASD is caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- Alcohol is a teratogen (an agent that alters the normal development of a fetus) and is considered more damaging than other drugs. It crosses the placenta, destroying brain cells and causing lifelong impairments. (See video here.)
- There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant.
- There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy.
- Today, one in eight pregnant women in the US report alcohol use in the past 30 days. One in 50 have reported binge drinking in the past 30 days (five or more drinks at one time).
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dedicated Online Resource from the CDC on Issues Related to FASD
- DHHS Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – FASD Center for Excellence
- Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – A Great Resource on FASD-related Issues In and Around Minnesota
- New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services – FASD Page