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, at 9:09 a.m. on Sept. 9, bells are rung in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska; and proclamations are issued, so that on the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth month the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol.

“The prevalence rate of FASDs is now comparable to that of Autism, and the new Autism rate is one in 88,” said Judy Struck, executive director, Center for Disabilities, and professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Sanford School of Medicine. “The fact that Gov. Daugaard issued a proclamation for Sept. 9 as FASD Awareness Day is indicative of the severe impact FASD has on South Dakota families, from both a health outcomes and statewide economic perspective.”

The Center for Disabilities currently has FASD clinics in Sioux Falls and Rapid City where referrals to the clinics are 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, approximately 110 infants with an FASD are born each year in South Dakota making FASD more common than Down syndrome, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.

“The tragedy of the growing prevalence rate is that all FASDs are 100 percent preventable,” said Struck. “The child is changed for their entire lifetime because the mother did not abstain from alcohol for a mere nine months. That’s why FASD Awareness Day is so important.”

For more information about fetal alcohol syndrome and FASD, please visit the Center for Disabilities website at www.usd.edu/medical-school/center-for-disabilities/. You can also download the new FASD brochure at http://www.usd.edu/medical-school/center-for-disabilities/upload/NOFAS-SD-Brochure-8-12.pdf. The Center for Disabilities is an affiliate of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

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