Recognizing and responding to fetal alcohol disorders



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The Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Center held a hands-on training event discussing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders on Wednesday.

It’s a growing problem within the state of West Virginia.

Health care professionals and people who personally know someone who suffers from the effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders attended the event. The goal was to help participants recognize and respond to the disorders, the most severe of which is fetal alcohol syndrome, correctly.

“The purpose of the event is to increase awareness in regards to the signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and give them some ideas that they can do to prevent the disorder from occurring,” said Carole Scheerbaum, WVU extension agent.

Right out of the gate, a simple question with an alarming answer was asked at the start of the seminar: Should a pregnant woman be served alcohol at bars and restaurants?

While it is not illegal for restaurants to serve pregnant woman alcohol, the workshop focused on how there’s been an increase in exposure of alcohol to expecting mothers within the state of West Virginia.

“In West Virginia, in 2009 women ages 35 and older were more likely to be drinking during pregnancy,” Scheerbaum said.

The fetal alcohol spectrum disorders seminar is held annually. Last year, the event was attended by 30 local health care professionals, but this year only 6 health care professionals joined the discussion. One was Erin Roxby, with Northern Panhandle Headstart.

“When she spoke about [how] there is no amount of alcohol to consume, I know some people think, ‘oh, one glass of red wine.’ But there is no way to know how much is safe. So the best is to abstain, that’s what I learned and I’m going to pass it along to all my moms,” Roxby said.

No matter how many were in attendance or what their reasons were for being at the resource center, Scheerbaum said her mission was to help them see people and not problems.

“The problem is here and it’s something we are working to educate,” Scheerbaum said.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is 100 percent preventable. For more information or for help dealing with the disorders, you can contact the Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Center.

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