Connections Family Program, in partnership with Alcohol and Drug Services, hosted a workshop on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder on Thursday, at First United Methodist Church, in Rockingham.
Guest speaker, Amy Hendricks, N.C. Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program Project Director, directed her presentation to a group mostly made up of allied health professionals.
Her mission that day was to educate those who work closely with women on how best to share information about the risk of consuming alcohol while pregnant.
Hendricks dispelled the myth that low to moderate consumption of alcohol - even late in the pregnancy - can be OK.
“The truth is, we just don’t know for sure if there is ever a safe time to consume any alcohol while pregnant,” said Hendricks. “What we do know is that the brain is developing all the way until the end of the the pregnancy, and we know that alcohol levels of the fetus are higher than those of mothers who are doing the drinking.”
This is why, Hendricks said, it is important to not only create an open dialogue with women, in order to find out how much alcohol they are consuming, but to help educate the women on serving sizes of various alcoholic drinks.
She said many women may not even understand that when they may think they are “only consuming one drink,” due to misinformation about serving sizes - they may be consuming much more, and doing that much more damage to developing fetuses.
The example of cooking an egg in alcohol was given as a unique and visual tool to help get the message across to women. “Crack an egg into a mason jar containing alcohol, put the lid on, and by the time you’ve finished talking to the women - the egg will be cooked. It sends a powerful message about the potency of the substance, and its ability to cause chemical and physical reactions.”
“Most people think of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) when they think of alcohol effects on pregnancies,” said Hendricks. “There are actually several disorders that fall under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) umbrella.”
While there are often physical traits that go along with FAS, there is another disorder under the FASD umbrella that healthcare providers are “seeing a lot of,” according to Hendricks.
“Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARBD) can cause intelectual disabilities and problems with behavior and learning,” said Hendricks.
The other two disorders that fall under the FASD umbrella are Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD) and Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (PFAS).
Individuals affected by prenatal alcohol exposure can have a range of serious, lifelong problems including delayed development, hyperactivity, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
“That’s why it’s critical that we help women understand that, during pregnancy, there’s no known safe amount of alcohol, no safe type of alcohol and no safe time to drink alcohol,” stressed Hendricks.
“Connections Family Program not only links parents to resources in the community, but we link professionals with resources as well,” said Connections Family Advocate Adrian Lovelace. “In connection with Alcohol and Drug Services, we hope to draw attention to this issue which, we feel, is serious but often overlooked.”
For more information on alcohol and pregnancy, or for a referral to services call 1-800-752-3157.
Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com