Campaign urges women to avoid drinking while pregnant

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Health is launching a new campaign to stop a completely preventable birth defect. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forces those born with the disease to live with physical and mental challenges.

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is the leading cause of "preventable" mental retardation. - Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition

The Daniel family is sharing their story about FASD. They say their adopted daughter, Briar, would be just like any other 5-year-old if her biological mother had stopped drinking while pregnant.

Briar has severe speech impediment, among other things.

"Basically in all the areas they test for she is delayed," says father Jeremy Daniel.

She also has bouts of anger in which she becomes inconsolable. None of these problems is reversible.

Briar Daniel
Briar Daniel

"The alcohol affects the brains cells and dissolves important cells that are meant to replicate and create other parts of the brain," says Daniel.

But FASD is preventable, and that's why the Daniel family is telling their story. As part of a statewide campaign, posters with three other stories of FASD will be displayed in government buildings, pleading with women to stop drinking when pregnant.

According to the Utah Department of Health, it's estimated more then 40,000 babies are born with FASD -- that's 10 out of every 10,000 births. In Utah, 2 percent of women surveyed reported they binge drank while pregnant.

For over 30 years, Ruth Brown has lived with the consequences of her biological mother's drinking problem.

It is estimated that each year in the United States more than 40,000 babies are born with FASD. Rates of FASD are estimated to be 10 per 1,000 births, or 1%. - Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition

"It's not OK to drink. If you do while you are pregnant, this is what is going to happen, or worse," says Brown.

Brown has fused bones, a hole in her heart, and the list goes on. Ruth is using her story, like Briar, to raise awareness, and prevent the disease that is 100-percent preventable.

"It's a price that is very hard to pay, and they will struggle with their entire lives," says Daniel.

The Utah Department of Health encourages women to avoid drinking even one glass of alcohol during pregnancy.

To sign a pledge promising not to drink while pregnant, [CLICK HERE].


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Amanda Butterfield


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