On September 9th each year, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recognizes International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day as a reminder that FASD is preventable, and that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) represents the collective lifelong physical, behavioral, and cognitive impairments produced by prenatal alcohol exposure. These impairments can range from mild to severe and contribute to a variety of issues such as learning disabilities, speech and language delays, visual and hearing problems, problems with critical organs, and social challenges throughout a person's life. Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States. According to a study in first graders in four U.S. communities, FASD affects an estimated 1 to 5 percent of individuals.
Alcohol can have harmful effects throughout pregnancy, with binge drinking thought to be particularly damaging. However, even lower levels of alcohol exposure during pregnancy are associated with increased risks for miscarriage and for negative behavioral and psychological outcomes in children.
This FASD Awareness Day, learn more about how prenatal alcohol exposure impacts health. NIAAA offers resources about alcohol and pregnancy, including a newly updated trifold brochure titled Alcohol and Your Pregnancy.
For anyone experiencing problems with alcohol—especially people who are or might be pregnant and are finding it difficult to stop drinking—it is also important to know that there are treatment options and resources. Talking to a healthcare provider or visiting the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator can be a good place to start.