Friday, September 9, 2011

Utah Woman has Urgent Message for Mothers

(Salt Lake City, UT) -  “This didn’t have to happen to me,” says Ruth, a woman with numerous physical, intellectual, and emotional effects from being born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Ruth’s mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy, causing Ruth to have permanent brain damage. In addition, Ruth was born with a heart defect, cleft lip, and several limb defects.  She has survived two heart attacks, countless seizures, and lives with endless pain due to a number of surgeries. School, and something we all take for granted – daily living – have been a constant struggle.
Ruth has a message for to all women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant: “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable.”
It is estimated that each year in the United States, more than 40,000 babies are born with FASD.  Studies show that as many as one in every 100 babies is born with a health problem linked to his or her mother’s drinking during pregnancy.
“Rates of FASD are higher than those of Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and sudden infant death syndrome,” said Dr. Al Romeo, counselor with the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line (PRL).

In Utah, 2% of women reported to the Utah Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey that they binge drank during pregnancy (drank five or more drinks in one sitting at least one time).  This could mean that more than 1,300 babies in Utah could be born each year with effects from alcohol exposure.

Governor Gary Herbert has declared September 9 Utah Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.  The Utah declaration supports international awareness activities held each year on the ninth day of the ninth month to remind pregnant women to protect their child by abstaining from alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy.

Substance abuse treatment and support resources are available, statewide, for women who are pregnant and struggling with alcohol dependence. Information about treatment and resources is available online at or by calling 801-538-3939.

For more information on the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy, visit the Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition website at or call the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line (PRL) at 1-800-822-2229. PRL is a free and confidential information service that answers questions about medications, drugs, chemicals, and other environmental exposures that can harm an embryo, fetus, or infant.  

Media Contact:Julia Robertson
UDOH/Pregnancy Risk Line
801-910-6790 (c) 801-328-2229 (w)