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Central Texas doctors look to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome amid pandemic

Posted at 9:26 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 10:26:04-05

Every year between 800 and 8,000 babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It's a preventable statistic, and one health experts are worried it will increase due to COVID-19.

"Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, it's one condition that is under the umbrella of Fetal Alcohol Disorders. These are disorders that affect the physical, psychological, and behavioral side of a kid through adulthood. These syndromes are with them for life," said Dr. Rachel Rube, Family Medicine Faculty Physician.

It's a lifelong battle that happens when a mother consumes any amount of alcohol during her pregnancy.

"There can be effects with a little bit verses a lot of it so, it does not matter. Any alcohol can be damaging to these babies as they develop," said Rube.

Dr. Rachel Rube says statistics show that 1 in 20 school-age children in the United States have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is why it's known as the invisible diagnoses.

"A lot of kids are not diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood," said Rube.

Even though FAS is 100% preventable, the reality is some pregnant women have an alcohol substance disorder, and the stigma behind it makes it that much harder for them to reach out for help.

"We really want people not to be ashamed of reaching out to get help. Treating a mental illness or substance disorder is just like treating any other medical condition," said Jaylyn Schumpert, Assistant Director of Business Development at the Cedar Crest Hospital & Residential Treatment Center.

OSAR, short for outreach, screening, assessment, and referral, is a state service that helps people find the best local substance service.

"Treatments are individualized. Everyone is different, so it's important to know what options are available and the process, so we are treating everything to get them the best chance of recovery," said Schumpert.

It's a call for help that can make all the difference.

"If the mother is struggling with this, it is not because you are weak or bad or harming your baby. If you struggle with this, there is no shame in coming forward. We are here to help you," said Rube.

If you or someone you know wants more information about substance use services, you can contact OSAR at 844-309-6385 or dial 211.

On Tuesday, January 26th, Cedar Crest Hospital & RTC and VASA Community Coalition will host a virtual event, "Invisible but not Silent: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders."

They will shine a light on everything there is to know about FAS. Learn more and register HERE.