Categorized | Health

FAS Awareness Day — 9:09 a.m. 9/9

MEDIA RELEASE

Sept. 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Awareness Day. This worldwide movement is to raise awareness about the largest known, and entirely preventable, cause of mental retardation and developmental disabilities – fetal alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FAS Awareness Day begins in many nations with bell-ringing at 9:09 a.m. local time.

On the Big Island, the Children’s Research Triangle will be hosting an event at the West Hawaii Civic Center in conjunction with the mayor’s office.

Mayor Billy Kenoi will provide the introduction for the morning, followed by speakers and informational tables by local support agencies. Refreshments will also be served.

More than 1,000 flags will be on display, representing the number of positive screens to date. The Hawaii CRT team has been working with local healthcare providers to screen pregnant women to identify alcohol use during pregnancy. A positive screen is a mother who admits to using substances during their pregnancy.

“These screens allow the provider the opportunity to offer these women a brief intervention, or short education about the risks associated with their behavior. We count it as a success if we even help one woman and change the outcome for her baby,” said Sharon Bechler, CRT Hawaii State Director.

The flags represent the critical work that still needs to be done in educating the island’s population about the dangers of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Elsewhere on the island, providers will support the day with posters in their offices. Banners, posters and flyers will also be displayed in visible areas around the various communities, with informational tables in Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa, Honokaa and Hilo.

Groups are urged to join in with bell-ringing, a coffee break, planned activity or simply talking story about this important issue for our Island families.

FAS is the leading known cause of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Children born with FAS are subject to developmental disabilities, birth defects and numerous other lifelong health issues. They can have difficulty with “executive functioning” or the ability to plan and complete a task, follow directions and learn.

This often leads to trouble in school, dropping out and eventual drug or alcohol use by the child. For families, coping with their children’s challenges can be devastating. For the community, the cost is high.

According to Theresa Kellerman’s research, on average a baby born in Hawaii with FAS, can cost as much as $5 million during their lifetime. The annual cost to U.S. taxpayers for treating FAS is $5.8 billion.

“Most pregnant women will not drink, or will stop drinking as soon as they learn they are pregnant,” said Bechler. “But since a majority of pregnancies are unplanned, women may not be aware right away. The safest thing a mom-to-be can do for her unborn baby is to abstain from beer, wine and hard liquor, and of course any other harmful substances, even when they’re planning to become pregnant.”

Children’s Research Triangle (CRT) based in Chicago with a Hawaii office, is a nonprofit organization which is dedicated to the healthy development of children and their families. CRT’s staff is committed to their mission to provide research driven services that improve the quality of life for all children with special needs or those who are at risk for developmental, behavioral, psychological or educational problems.

In Hawaii, CRT is the recipient of a federal grant to provide education and materials to medical providers who care for pregnant women.

The medical personnel use the tools provided by CRT to screen women for potential alcohol, tobacco and drug use, offer a brief intervention, education about the dangers of using alcohol, tobacco and drugs during pregnancy, and refer them to outside agencies for support when necessary.

For more information on FAS or Children’s Research Triangle Hawaii, contact Sharon Bechler at (808) 885-0501 or sharonaloha@gmail.com.

One Response to “FAS Awareness Day — 9:09 a.m. 9/9”

  1. It’s terrific that Hawaii is increasing FASD Awareness!
    If you celebrate FASD Day on Sept 9 and use Twitter…
    consider tweeting your FASD Day event or awareness message with the #FASD hashtag and retweet every FASD tweet you get to make FASD “trend” and raise more awareness across Twitter.
    Let’s have lots of FASD Day tweets on Sept 9th!
    (Contact @FASDElephant for more info.)

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