CHIPPEWA FALLS – Monica Morris has seen the aftermath of women who drink while pregnant.
The HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Birth Center director said women still may not understand that even having one drink of alcohol while pregnant could lead to lasting affects for that child.
Which is why Morris was interested in being a part of the area’s first walk to raise awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders at Irvine Park on Wednesday.
3D Community Health – Body.Mind.Spirit, a service of HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals, aligned with International FASD Awareness Day on Sept. 9 to disseminate education during the walk at 9:09 a.m. The awareness day and time has been the same each year since its inception on 9/9/99. The day was chosen to remind people no alcohol should be consumed during the nine months of pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. The effects can include physical, behavioral and learning problems.
One in 13 pregnant women in the United States who were polled reporting drinking in the past 30 days; and one in 71 pregnant women reported binge drinking in the same time frame, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Weeks before the walk, Dr. Jill Hasenberg, Prevea Family Health physician in Chippewa Falls, said no amount of alcohol is a safe amount for a pregnant woman.
“Typically, in that first prenatal visit we’re asking about alcohol use before pregnancy. Usually women find out that they are pregnant four weeks after conception,” she said. “If I have a patient that asks me about using alcohol during pregnancy I say, ‘Why take the chance?’ ”
Hasenberg, a family doctor who delivers babies at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said most women want to do everything in their power to make sure that their children are healthy and they get a good start in life. Those people don’t have a problem remaining abstinent, she said. It’s the woman who has a problem with alcohol that may take chances with the life of her unborn baby.
If Hasenberg can detect a problem, she provides resources, gets her fellow practitioners involved and works to get that mother alcohol treatment.
Morris, who has been a colleague at St. Joseph’s Hospital for more than 20 years, said it used to be socially acceptable to have a drink once in a while if you were pregnant. But those days are long gone.
“It’s a new day. We know that drinking while pregnant causes harm,” she said. “The effects are life-long, but they can be 100 percent avoided.
“You can stop the line no matter where you are in your pregnancy. You don’t need to do this alone. There is help, and it’s right here in our backyard.”