More than 20 participants gathered at First United Methodist Church in Rockingham, North Carolina on Thursday to understand the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
The educational workshop, held in partnership between the Connections Family Program and the Alcohol and Drug Services, was presented by Amy Hendricks, project director for the North Carolina Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program.
“My goal is to educate members of the community about the serious effects that alcohol can cause when a woman drinks during pregnancy,” Hendricks said. “These problems include physical, cognitive, behavioral and developmental disabilities which can affect an individual over a lifespan, requiring the services of many community agencies.”
Hendricks discussed the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including its most well-known subgroup, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as well as Alcohol-Related Birth Defects, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder and Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She provided national and statewide statistics covering FASD cases, noting that approximately 1 in 100 births in the United States is affected by the disorder.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, FASD can result to a variety of health risks, including birth defects, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and attention deficits.
“Alcohol is such an accepted thing now,” Hendricks said to the group. “Our society is saturated with alcohol advertising and delivering the message that it’s all good.” However, Hendricks stressed that the problem arises when alcohol reaches the youth and pregnant women.
Also discussed during the workshop were several prevention efforts, including education about alcohol, contraception and FASD for everyone, alcohol screening for all women of childbearing age, alcohol intervention for women at risk and targeted alcohol treatment and promotion of contraceptives for women at highest risk.