September 6, 2002
DAY SET TO EMPHASIZE DANGERS OF DRINKING
Charlotte, N.C. – Women who drink alcohol while pregnant can risk their baby's development to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and its resultant health and socialization problems.
On Monday, Sept. 9, at 9:09 a.m., substance abuse treatment workers with the Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health Authority (AMHA) urge everyone to join in a "Moment of Reflection" to raise global awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The moment is to recognize Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day in North Carolina, proclaimed by Governor Michael Easley and leaders of the North Carolina Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Initiative. The day was first recognized internationally in 1999. The date – the ninth day of the ninth month -- signifies the nine months of pregnancy and reinforces the message that women should abstain from alcohol during this time, and while trying to conceive or while breastfeeding.
"It is extremely important for the residents of Mecklenburg County to recognize the effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant because of the damage done to the unborn baby," said Misty Fulk, whose work at AMHA involves counseling women who are pregnant and addicted. "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is 100 percent preventable. If we do not drink while we are pregnant, then our babies will not have FAS."
The County AMHA staff plans to bring attention to the syndrome during the month of September by distributing stickers and posters, and encouraging pregnant women not to drink.
An estimated one out of every 100 babies born in the United States has FAS, according to the Alcohol/Drug Council of NC. Characteristics of FAS include certain facial features, low birth weight, and damage to the central nervous system that interferes with impulse control, social development and decision-making skills.
The NC FAS Initiative wants to raise awareness in hopes of finding ways to decrease the incidence, and to increase the availability of services that would help those affected to lead productive and healthy lives, according to the Alcohol/Drug Council of NC.
www.alcoholdrughelp.org, the Web site of the Alcohol/Drug Council of NC, to learn more.