National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day is Sept. 9. Throughout the week of Sept. 5-9, diverse groups of Kentuckians will gather for the premier of a film created by the Kentucky Prevention Enhancement Site (PES) for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), in collaboration with the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board Inc.
The choice of the ninth day of the ninth month is not coincidental, as the number nine serves as a reminder of the crucial nine months that a child develops during pregnancy. Each day is a chance for an expectant mother to refuse alcohol. When an expectant mother refuses alcohol she prevents a disorder that is estimated to affect almost 40,000 babies, children, adolescents and adults in Kentucky.
The film, "These Nine Months," a collaborative effort of Kentucky health care professionals and other concerned Kentuckians, seeks to inform the public of the facts and consequences surrounding FASD, a broad category of developmental disorders caused by alcohol consumed during pregnancy. Disorders exist on a continuum with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
The most commonly recognized disorder is Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) with its concomitant facial defects and cognitive impairments, although one does not have to possess facial abnormalities or severe intellectual impairment to be diagnosed with an FASD.
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Fetal alcohol syndrome Disorder is a hidden disability, often suffered in silence. People with post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder share this stigma. Their disabilities, if not treated and recognized, can prevent them from attaining a normal standard of living. Others may spurn these individuals and consider their learning and behavior problems as their exclusive responsibility.
According to the FASD Center for Excellence, such disorders cost the nation nearly $6 billion a year — a sum that amounts to approximately 8 percent of the total budget for the Department of Education. This does not account for the psychological and emotional hardships endured by individuals and families living with this preventable disorder. Alcohol can morph into a volatile substance when consumed by a mother and her unborn child.
Take a moment to think about your potential impact in preventing these dangerous disorders and consider attending a film screening.
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For more information, go to http://www.kyfasd.org.