Local organizations work to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — September is National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder awareness month, and local organizations are coming together to spread their message.

With 1 in 9 pregnant women reporting drinking in the last 30 days, experts say it’s important to know the risks of negative affects alcohol could have on their baby.

“Facially you see an under development, a low birth weight, you see the ears lower on the head, you see a flattened nose, a flattened chin, thin lips, eyes are father apart and even the hairline is back,” Stefanie Wolownik, a prevention education surpervisor at Wyoming Valley Drug and Alcohol Services told Eyewitness News. “It’s like the baby stopped developing at some point.”

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a very serious condition that results from alcohol exposure during pregnancy. According to health professionals, there are several misconceptions regarding alcohol consumption and pregnancy.

“If you have a glass of wine a day it shouldn’t hurt the baby, but that’s just not true. Or the occasional drink on a special occasion, but again we have to emphasize that there is no safe amount of alcohol,” Wolownick said.

Family planning services and local drug and alcohol services put on an event each September to help educate the community on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19 but the education continues in more creative ways for this preventable disorder.

“We made up bags and baskets and took them out to local obgyn’s to clinics, early intervention programs so people coming into those places can access this information,” Children Service Center Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coordinator Cammie Anderson said.

Sometimes, a stigma surrounds those who struggle with alcohol. To break that stigma, there are many local resources available to help those in need.

For Substance Use Disorder (SUD) prevention and counseling:

·         Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Drug and Alcohol Programs  (570) 826-8790 (This agency contracts with SUD providers in the bi-county area.)

·         Pathway to Recovery  (570) 455-9902 (Southern Luzerne County)

·         Robinson Counseling Center  (570) 301-0935 (Luzerne and Wyoming Counties)

·         Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc.  (570) 820-8888 (North and Central Luzerne County)

For Pregnant Women:

·         Healthy Moms  (570) 955-7821

·         Maternal and Family Health Services/Nurse-Family Partnership  (570) 823-7000

·         Free2BMom  (570) 214-2159

·         Pathways Unplanned Pregnancy Help Center  (570) 714-4673

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