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International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day 2019 - Significance

Every year, 9 September is observed as International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. Various awareness programs and events are conducted to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

The day is religiously observed throughout the globe by several organisations and health care centres, such as bells being rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska, proclamations issued in countries, states, provinces, and towns all around the world.

What Is FASD?

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD is a condition that describes a range of disabilities that occur to infants as a result of the mother's drinking habit during pregnancy. Every year, an estimate of 40,000 babies are born with FASDs. These disorders include a wide range of physical, behavioural, and learning problems.

According to studies, the prevalence of FASD 10 per 1000 births in the USA and 68.0-89.2 per 1000 in South Africa. However, there is a lack of studies that explore the prevalence of the condition in India [1] .

As per various reports, 1 in 8 women drinks during her pregnancy. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can damage the developing foetal brain[1] . It directly impacts the embryo and foetus during the first three months of pregnancy [2] . It causes the child to be born with characteristics such as a small head, lack of focus, hyperactivity etc.

FASDs are of three types, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD).

Foetal alcohol syndrome is the serious stage of the FASD spectrum which causes facial abnormalities, growth defects and neurological disorders [3] . Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) results in the development of learning or behaviour and intellectual disability (ID) and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD) causes impairment of neurocognition, self-regulation and adaptive functioning impairment [4] .

The life expectancy at birth of people with FAS is 34 years

Significance Of The Date - 9 September

Also termed as the FASDay, the day was first recognised in 1999 - marking the initiation on 9/9/99.

The significance of the day, date and the time of bell ringing at 9.09 am is that 'on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol'[5] .

FASDs are entirely preventable. It is just a matter of avoiding alcohol while pregnant or while at the risk of pregnancy. Every day is a good day to observe FASDay, think and act - for yourself and your baby.

View Article References
  1. [1] Badry, D., Coons-Harding, K. D., Cook, J., & Bocking, A. (2019). Finding answers, improving outcomes: a case study of the Canada fetal alcohol spectrum disorder research network. Advances in Dual Diagnosis, 12(1/2), 53-61.
  2. [2] Gibbs, A. (2019). An evidence-based training and support course for caregivers of children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in New Zealand. Advances in Dual Diagnosis, 12(1/2), 73-84.
  3. [3] Blagg, H., Tulich, T., & May, S. (2019). Aboriginal youth with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and enmeshment in the Australian justice system: can an intercultural form of restorative justice make a difference?. Contemporary Justice Review, 22(2), 105-121.
  4. [4] Lu, A., & Johnson, K. (2019). The UK and Ireland incidence of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): a new study. Advances in Dual Diagnosis, 12(1/2), 99-102.
  5. [5] Manriquez, M., Starer, J., Parisi, V., Tracy, E., McFadden, T., & Penney, L. (2019). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder prevention program: SBIRT's role in averting fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Birth defects research, 111(12), 829-834.
Story first published: Monday, September 9, 2019, 8:30 [IST]
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