September is a lot of things in the sobriety community - some celebrate Sober September (where people don’t drink for a month to re-set, like Dry January), it’s Recovery Month (acknowledging mental health and substance abuse issues), and we just learned it’s also Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness month.
Here are the key points we’ve learned from perusing the coverage of FASD awareness month:
It’s more common than you might think. FASD, which refers to a set of symptoms adults can have due to their mothers’ drinking during pregnancy, affects 2-5% of kids in the US. That’s about as common as autism, but the condition is not as well-known.
FASD can be hard to detect. A lot of people don’t even know they have it), because it can be confused with so many other things, especially behavior problems. One article painted the picture of the symptoms like this: the child struggled with “sitting still, loud noises, making friends and math.” Sounds like a lot of kids, doesn’t it? Most of the symptoms are mental in nature, and sound a lot like the effects of alcohol: people with FASD have problems with memory, problem-solving, learning, and self-control.
Moms aren’t always informed about the risks. A lot of people think that some amount of drinking while pregnant is safe. But it turns out alcohol is even more dangerous to babies’ developing brains than other drugs including pot, opioids, cocaine, or meth.
There is no cure. Right now, there isn’t a cure for FASD, but there is ongoing research aimed at reducing the effects. And soon, there will be an app designed for parents to learn how to cope with the behavioral problems FASD causes.
If you know you’re pregnant, the message from the public awareness campaign is clear: don’t drink until your baby is born. The symptoms are lasting and can cause real developmental challenges for your kids.
If you’re looking to take a break from drinking, whatever the reason, we’d love to help you do it. Drinker’s Helper is an app that offers over 100 motivational exercises and a peer support group to help you cut back or quit drinking. Try it free for a week!