FASD 5-Minute Presentation for Classroom
© 2004 Teresa Kellerman www.fasstar.com
(Sources include March of Dimes, the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute of Health, and CDC)
Preparation: Take an empty baby bottle and a mini whiskey bottle that is filled with tea or coffee or some liquid that looks like whiskey. Pour the “liquor” into the baby bottle, replace the bottle top, hold it up for all to see, and begin:
Would anyone give this to a baby? Of course not! But every time a pregnant woman has a drink, it's like giving a drink to the baby inside. The baby's BAC (blood alcohol content) can be the same or higher than the mother's.
Alcohol causes more damage to the developing baby’s brain than any other substance. Binge drinking causes the most damage, but moderate and light drinking can put the baby at risk as well. Some doctors tell their pregnant patients that one or two drinks a day is okay, but there is NO safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. If a woman were to drink one drink a day during her pregnancy, that would mean the baby would get an equivalent of 30 baby bottles FULL of liquor.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the leading cause of brain damage in newborns. But most babies with FAS do not have mental retardation and most have normal appearance.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is only the tip of the iceberg. For every child born with full FAS, there are FIVE children born with invisible yet serious Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND). Together FAS and ARND make up what is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). One out of 100 babies in the U.S. is born with FASD.
The most damage occurs to the brain and shows up as behavior problems during the school years.
The biggest problems with FASD are ADHD (they have poor impulse control), memory deficits (they forget the rules), and poor judgment (they make bad decisions). Because of these three major problems, which are caused by brain dysfunction, the child ends up making the same mistakes over and over, in spite of the consequences.
Some kids with FASD get a diagnosis and get special education and other help, but most do not have a diagnosis or have the wrong diagnosis, and just get into lots of trouble. They tend to be immature and have inappropriate behavior. They are at high risk of having clinical depression with suicidal tendencies. They are at high risk of dropping out or getting kicked out of school, of getting in trouble with the law, of abusing alcohol and other drugs, of promiscuous sex, and are vulnerable to becoming victims of physical and sexual abuse. Without help, they end up homeless, addicted, arrested, or dead.
The rate of drinking among women of childbearing age has been increasing. Over half of women of childbearing age drink. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned. 23% of pregnant women report that they drank during their 1st trimester, when the baby is really vulnerable to damage to the brain and organs.
Guys are not off the hook. Although FASD can only be caused by the mother drinking during pregnancy, research shows that children of fathers who are heavy drinkers are at high risk of having learning disabilities, addictions, and mental health problems. Alcohol consumption by guys during the teen years can affect the sperm. Studies show that most mothers who have babies with FASD were sexually abused by men when they were younger, and that birth mothers were likely to have been victims of serious abuse at some time in their lives. The biggest factor in women staying sober during pregnancy is having her husband or boyfriend abstain along with her.
Birth control is not as effective as people assume. Couples need to use TWO forms of birth control, because with just one form, the failure rate is 20%. That means that out of 100 couples who rely on just the pill or just a condom, 20 of them will get pregnant within one year. If you are sexually active, the chances of your getting pregnant in the next 5 years is really high.
There is no cure, but Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable.
For your convenience, I have put all this information onto note cards that you may use to guide you during your 5-minute presentation. Classroom Presentation Note Cards
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Be sure to give credit to the web site
www.fasstar.com Fasstar Enterprises
© 2004 Teresa Kellerman
Permission granted for classroom use
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