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Linda Soderstrom: Prevent fetal-alcohol syndrome

Linda Soderstrom: Prevent fetal-alcohol syndrome

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September 9 is the international day of prevention for fetal alcohol syndrome.

We wish that each child will be born with nine months in utero of alcohol-free nurture from mom.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused when a biological mother consumes alcohol during her pregnancy and the alcohol is toxic to the fetus.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is entirely preventable. It is preventable when birth mothers consume no alcohol at all from conception through nursing. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to be consumed during pregnancy.

And dads have babies too. If a couple are planning their pregnancies, they should plan to remove alcohol from the home throughout that time when they are planning to conceive and all the way through nursing.

I am a former foster and adoptive parent with Hennepin County and cared for more than 50 children -- all of whom were prenatally exposed to alcohol and Other drugs.

The damage is quite evident. The children are globally delayed. They require much medical intervention and I was happy to provide them with it. But there is no making up for what becomes organic brain damage and sometimes bodily conditions as well.

Since the ninth day of the ninth month of 1999, we have celebrated International Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day.

Let's all prevent fetal alcohol syndrome by refraining from alcohol consumption in the child-bearing years and also share our knowledge with others even as young as junior high and high school so they will see it as part of their own health and life planning.

When a loved one is pregnant and has an alcoholic drinking habit or even an alcohol drinking problem, we should kindly offer assistance and support for them to seek whatever therapy or treatment they may need.

Fetal alcohol syndrome does exist and it is a very heart-wrenching condition to be born with because it lasts a lifetime. That is why it is better to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome than to provide all the good identification and intervention we can.

Of course, we will take care of kids already here who have FAS; but in the long run it's going to be millions of dollars cheaper to prevent its occurrence.

Linda Soderstrom, St. Charles

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