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Fetal alcohol syndrome is 100% preventable

Are you between the ages of 18-35? Are you thinking about becoming pregnant? Even if you aren't planning on becoming pregnant, did you know 50% of pregnancies are unplanned? That means 50% of women who are pregnant were not expecting to be pregnant and may use alcohol in the early, most critical stage of a baby's development.

Approximately 40,000 babies born each year are affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (2018), 1 in 100 babies have FASD, which is nearly the same rate as children with autism.

FAS and FASD, caused by women drinking alcohol during pregnancy, is 100% preventable. According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, "No amount of alcohol use is known to be safe for a developing baby before birth." The alcohol in the mother's blood is passed to the baby through the umbilical cord. The baby's liver is unable to process the alcohol as it is not fully developed, which causes the baby to absorb the same amount of alcohol in the blood as the mother.

FAS can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, and can result in developmental and learning disabilities, difficulty with emotional regulation, birth defects and facial abnormalities. Any or all of these disabilities will affect the child throughout their entire life.

If you are a woman between the ages of 18-35 and you are not planning to become pregnant, schedule an appointment with your provider to discuss birth control options. Along with preventing pregnancy, it is important to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections. If you have a problem quitting drinking, you can also talk to your provider about treatment options.

Please remember prevention is a key to health. No amount of alcohol in pregnancy is safe, so prevent unplanned pregnancies and protect your unborn baby!

For more information, please visit the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome website at www.nofas.org. For reproductive health questions, call Mahube Otwa Family Health at 1-877-275-6123 or https://familyplanningcentralmn.org/