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- The ARC - California Edition -

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The Arc's message to pregnant women:
"Don't drink at all"

For the upcoming Mother’s Day, May 9, The Arc of the United States has a message for mothers-to-be: “Don’t drink alcohol during your pregnancy.”

May 9-15 will mark the 1999 observance of National Alcohol and Other Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week. The Arc-US offers a free brochure, “Think Before You Drink,” which explains the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

“Drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, and that’s the leading known preventable cause of mental retardation,” said Deborah Cohen, chair of The Arc Health Promotion and Disability Prevention committee.

FAS is a pattern of mental, physical and behavioral birth defects caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. It is one set of problems caused by a pregnant woman’s use of alcohol, which can also lead to an infant’s low birth weight, poor muscle tone, sleep disorders and other defects, according to The Arc.

FAS is diagnosed annually in at least 5,000 babies in the United States. There are many additional cases of fetal alcohol effects (FAE), caused by lower levels of alcohol exposure. Learning disabilities, short attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems can all appear in children born to women who drink during their pregnancy.

“No one knows how much alcohol will cause birth defects, Cohen said. “The only completely safe amount of alcohol is none at all. Pregnant women who think it’s OK to drink beer, wine and other ‘small’ amounts of alcohol are playing roulette with the health of their baby.”

To obtain the brochure, “Think Before You Drink,” send a stamped self-addressed envelop to: The Prevention News, 15119 Granada Avenue, La Mirada, CA, 90638.

The Arc of the United States has over 1,000 affiliated chapters. It is the nation’s largest volunteer organization solely devoted to improving the lives of people who have mental retardation and fostering prevention of the condition in babies and young children.


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