USD Center for Disabilities supports FASD Awareness Day

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The Center for Disabilities at the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota is raising awareness on Thursday, Sept. 9 for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.

FASD Awareness Day serves as a reminder about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy, and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Each year, on Sept. 9, people from around the world gather to raise FASD awareness. Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska, proclamations are issued, so that on the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol.

“For Governor Rounds to issue the proclamation for Sept. 9 as FASD Awareness Day in South Dakota is truly indicative of his understanding of this issue and the importance that he places on the need for our state to address and decrease the rate of infants being born affected by FASD,” noted Judy Struck, Executive Director, Center for Disabilities, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Sanford School of Medicine.

The Center for Disabilities currently has two FASD clinics, in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, where referrals to the clinics are typically made by the Department of Social Services, the Department of Corrections, physicians, school districts and parents. Clinical services are family-centered, interdisciplinary and research-based. According to Struck, while the national prevalence rate of FASD is estimated to be one in 100 live births annually, this means that in South Dakota approximately 110 infants with an FASD are born each year making FASD more common than Down syndrome, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.

“By preventing children being born with FASD our state could save as much as $2 million per child over the course of their lifetime,” Struck added. “The fact that FASD is 100 percent preventable makes this such an important issue to support.” 

For more information about fetal alcohol syndrome and FASD, please visit the Center for Disabilities Web site at www.usd.edu/medical-school/center-for-disabilities/. The Center for Disabilities is an affiliate of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.