Rushville churches, businesses and residents are being asked to ring bells at 9:09 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, to raise awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This relates to the nine months of pregnancy when women should be aware of the risks of FASD to her unborn child.

Carolyn Poer has a passion for raising awareness for FASD and is making the request to ring bells to Rushville citizens. She experienced the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy through a past job.

“In one of my jobs, I saw the effects of drugs and alcohol on newborns. My passion has increased since I met a little girl who is a victim of FASD,” Poer said. “She shares my birthday. She is now 13 and was first fostered in a home and then adopted. Those adoptive parents were not made aware of the disability.”

According to medlineplus.gov, no amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy. Alcohol can harm your baby at any stage during a pregnancy, including the earliest stages before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

Poer said many women are unaware of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the harmful effects it has on their babies.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most severe form of FASD. There are a range of disorders in the spectrum and the extent of damage to the brain and body differ.

According to nofas.org, a developing baby can’t process alcohol. They absorb all the alcohol and have the same blood alcohol content as the mother.

An estimated 40,000 newborns are affected each year by FAS or have FASD.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate one in 100 babies has FASD, which is nearly the same rate as Autism. FASD is more prevalent than Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, SIDS, Cystic Fibrosis and Spina Bifida combined.

Children born with FASD can have an array of problems including:

• Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip

• Small head size

• Shorter-than-average height

• Low body weight

• Poor coordination

• Hyperactive behavior

• Difficulty with attention and memory

• Learning disabilities and difficulty in school

• Speech and language delays

• Intellectual disability or low IQ

• Poor reasoning and judgment skills

• Sleep and sucking problems as a baby

• Vision or hearing problems

• Problems with the heart, kidneys or bones

“This project is sponsored by The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union,” Poer said. “Our current purpose is to educate individuals of the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.”

The group distributes coloring sheets in schools as part of a national contest.

Students in grades K-3 participate in the contest. The students’ art carries a message saying they will abstain from the use of drugs and alcohol.

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