Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Speech to the U.S. Senate

I rise today to honor this Sunday, September 9th, National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day which recognizes those individuals born with a continuum of serious, life-long disorders caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, which include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol-Related Neuro-developmental Disorders, and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects.

Forty Thousand children are born every year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and are subject to a lifetime of cognitive and behavioral impairments. Tragically, Alaska has the highest rate of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in the nation.  Among Alaskan Native communities, the rate is 15 times higher than non-Native areas in the state.  Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in low IQ and difficulties with learning, memory, attention, and problem-solving as well as impairment of mental health and social interactions. Prenatal alcohol exposure can also result in growth retardation, birth defects involving the heart, kidney, vision and hearing, and a characteristic pattern of facial abnormalities.

The lifetime health costs for an individual with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is at least $2 million dollars.   The cost of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the United States is estimated to be at least $6 billion in 2007 and total economic costs would be even higher for all Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. There is a great need for research, surveillance, prevention, treatment, and support services for individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and their families. It is for these reasons that I rise today to dedicate this Sunday, September 9th as National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day. All Americans are encouraged to promote awareness of the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol; to increase compassion for individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol; to minimize further effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol; and most importantly to bring greater awareness to a disease that is 100 percent preventable!  

On behalf of myself and the millions of individuals suffering from the lasting and detrimental effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, I encourage all Americans to observe a moment of reflection on the ninth hour of September 9th, to remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should not consume any alcohol.