FASD Prevention = [Preconception Health] OR [Alcohol + Contraception]

BSTS Blog Series: “Protecting unborn babies from alcohol-related harm”

Written by Nathalie P

The author of this series of blog posts has been an intern with the Better Safe than Sorry Project this summer since graduating from high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. She is an incoming freshman at Syracuse University with plans to study journalism and possibly psychology. Over the summer, she has attended a number of the training sessions for the “BSTS Change Agents” and participated in a few BSTS talk show sessions as well as attending an all day workshop by the “Families Affected by FASD.”

My Perspectives about Dr. Rich

As a Better Safe than Sorry intern, I’ve had the chance to get to know Dr. Susan Rich personally and professionally. What I’ve learned about her is that a 21 year passion for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevention and treatment has led to her recent decision to leave her successful private practice in child/adolescent and adult psychiatry to focus on diagnosing and treating kids with FASD. In 1993 after reading the Broken Cord, by Michael Dorris, Dr. Rich transformed her career – leaving pharmaceutical research to attend public health school then medical school and psychiatry training. Over the past 8 years, she has run a home-based clinical practice, providing hands-on work with general psychiatric patients as well as those affected by FASD – many of whom are adopted from Russia or former Eastern Bloc countries.

Though our community will miss Dr. Rich providing care to a wide range of psychiatric patients, it is great to see her taking on her passion for FASD full time. In many ways, she will inspire future generations of young adults like me to better understand and prevent this tragic condition.

Read Dr. Rich’s full statement in the CAPSGW newsletter Spring Summer 2014

FASD Prevention = [Preconception Health] OR [Alcohol + Contraception]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports FASD is more prevalent than combined rates of autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Down’s Syndrome. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure can cause seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, cleft lip/palate, as well as a various other “neurodevelopmental” disabilities. Due to these ailments, people with FASD are often unable to maintain gainful employment, are influenced by negative peer pressure, and socially alienated.  In other words, FASD is an epidemic, causing social problems, learning issues, intellectual disability, and other preventable disorders.  Many of these problems occur even before you know you are pregnant.

For this reason, the CDC has begun a national campaign on Preconception Health and Health Care in order to educate people on the importance of pregnancy planning and healthy lifestyles during “preconceptional” stages (http://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html ).

The Better Safe than Sorry Project has a simple solution to FASD:

If you use alcohol – avoid pregnancy (CONTRACEPT), and if you are pregnant or possibly might be (i.e., not using contraception and sexually active) – avoid alcohol entirely.

See the following websites for more information:

Zero for Nine: http://www.healthvermont.gov/adap/049/

NOFAS: http://www.nofas.org/

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