Jacob Haffey, Intern // Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute
People are unknowingly struggling with and contributing to what are known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). “FASD” is an umbrella term that comprises fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorders (ARND), and alcohol related birth defects (ARBD). Research estimates 2 out of every 1,000 Americans have FAS and 15 out of every 1,000 have an FASD. Recent studies illustrate that 5% to 10% of elementary school children have been prenatally exposed to alcohol and have an FASD. Up to 70% of children who are in foster care have an FASD.
FASDs are caused by women drinking alcohol while they are pregnant. The developing fetus is exposed to alcohol before birth, and then after birth the individual experiences the impact of having an FASD. The effects range from mild to severe and affect a person’s ability to regulate their emotions, learn effectively, and to interact socially through the lifespan.
Fifty-five percent of women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 44 report any drinking. Eighteen-and-a-half percent of women in this age bracket report binge drinking. Among women in the United States who are pregnant, 10% of them report any drinking and 1/3 of the women from that group report binge drinking.
In Michigan, half of all pregnancies are not planned. In 2015, 61.7% of women in the state of Michigan drank alcohol in the three months before conception. Approximately 6,700 women (6.2%) consumed alcohol in the last three months of pregnancy.
FASDs are completely preventable if women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. There should be warning signs meant to inform customers of the risks of prenatal alcohol exposure for developing infants. Alcohol Warning Signs legislation (AWS) in other states have been shown to decrease alcohol consumption during pregnancy by as much as 11%. Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) illustrates a 35% decrease in the odds of any drinking and a 75% decrease in the odds of binge drinking among pregnant women after these laws were passed. The Michigan Coalition for Fetal Alcohol Resources Education and Support (MCFARES) is advocating passage of these laws in order to decrease the frequency of FASDs in Michigan.
For more information about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, please contact Charisse Cossu-Kowalski of MCFARES at firstname.lastname@example.org or (586) 329-6722 or Ann Carrellas at the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute at email@example.com or (313) 577-8562.