Prevention of The Silent Epidemic of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

People have called my perspective courageous, zealous, and maverick in The Silent Epidemic (  The purpose of writing the book was to educate policy makers, legislators, physicians, parents, educators and the public at large about the leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems – prenatal alcohol exposure.  The children and families in my practice who are most affected by ND-PAE have heartbreaking stories, overwhelming responsibilities of adopting more than one child with this neurodevelopmental condition, and even being forced to “rehome” – send their children to live elsewhere.  And the situation is continuing to be hidden under the bleary-eyed veil of the oldest intoxicant known to man.

If 1 in 20 American children have this preventable form of brain damage, shouldn’t we aim
as a society to counter it on the level of efforts to erradicate cancer or polio?  Actually, it is much easier than either. A pharmaceutical company would be require a childbearing age woman using a chemotherapy agent or radiation treatment to be on two forms of reliable contraception as a fail safe measure to prevent birth defects, and to take a routine pregnancy test each time she returns for her treatments.  A young woman on retinoic acid derivatives in face creams and acne medications would have the same prevention plan.  In order to truly prevent ND-PAE, we must begin preconceptionally – avoiding alcohol if planning a pregnancy AND using contraception if using alcohol.
I have a number of upcoming speaking engagements about this issue in the upcoming weeks to educate and inform.  If you would like to host a book reading or presentation at your Rotary Club, school board, town hall meeting, or other event, please contact Donna at or 301-251-1190.

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