September 9th is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day and this little-known condition affects a larger portion of the population than most of us realize. According to the CDC, one to five in 100 school children suffer from FASD, and 1% to 5% of the US population fall within the full range of FASD. Most of these children and adults remain undiagnosed and endure an invisible disability that affects psychological, physical, and cognitive functioning.
Symptoms of FASD can include low birth weight, shorter than average height, memory problems, learning disabilities (especially with math), and behavioral issues such as severe tantrums and emotional dysregulation. FASD can result from any amount of prenatal exposure to alcohol, and those psychological and cognitive repercussions in the baby could manifest in childhood or even into adulthood. According to current research no amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is safe. Binge drinking or consistent alcohol intake can lead to the more devastating symptoms diagnosed as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), including visual and hearing deficits, deformities of joints, fingers, and limbs, and distinctive facial features.
To learn more about FASD and find hope for intervention that can improve outcomes, don’t miss the Brainy Moms podcast interview with FASD advocate Natalie Vecchione.
Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy
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