September 9 is World Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Day. The date is not accidental. It symbolizes nine months of pregnancy, because FAS is a syndrome diagnosed in children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy. The “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation has once again prepared a social campaign to draw attention to the problem and convince pregnant women to say “no” when offered alcohol.
The inverted glass is a symbol of the FASOFF social campaign, which is to convince pregnant women not to drink alcohol. This year, men and Kompania Piwowarska joined the campaign. – The method is very simple. All you have to do is not drink with your partner for nine months – explains Grzegorz Adamski, representative of Kompania Piwowarska.
Damian took up this challenge. He has not touched alcohol in nine months. – This challenge had an educational goal, simply to make us talk in our immediate surroundings about what fetal alcohol syndrome is – says Damian Szymański, a volunteer of the “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is an incurable syndrome that results from exposure of the fetus to alcohol.
The originator of the FASOFF action is the “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation, which runs an orphanage for sick children. Four of the patients were born with FAS. – 40 minutes after the mother drinks alcohol, the child, who has no defense mechanisms, has exactly the same concentration in the blood – says Marta Libiszowska, “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation.
The National Center for Addiction Prevention reports that, according to various studies, up to 38 percent of Polish women admit to drinking alcohol during pregnancy. – They still live with stereotypes that red wine is good or that beer does it well – says Dr. Teresa Jadczak-Szumiło, an expert at the National Center for Addiction Prevention. Some women have heard such things from their gynecologists. – When I was expecting a child, I heard from the doctor that a glass of wine wouldn’t hurt – says Marzena, a volunteer of the “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation.
For five years now, the Foundation has been debunking the myths that have functioned in society for the last five years. – There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy – emphasizes Marta Libiszowska. – Even one glass of alcohol can hurt. It’s just Russian roulette and you can hurt your child and commit suicide – adds Damian Szymański.
A huge threat
Every pregnant woman needs to know that the placenta does not protect the fetus from alcohol. Alcohol damages the brain and leads to irreversible changes in the nervous system. Therefore, children with FAS often have neurological disorders, grow slower, do not develop like their healthy peers, and sometimes have microcephaly. – They have difficulty (children with FAS – editor’s note) with concentration, with acquiring knowledge. They also often have aphasia, so they have a big problem understanding what is being said to them – explains Adrianna Szendo, a psychologist at the Children’s Home for Sick Children of the “Dom w Łodzi” Foundation.
In Lodz – at the Center for Social Policy – there is the first and only one of the two FAS therapy and diagnosis points in Poland. Within five years, 1,200 children were examined. Another hundred are waiting in line. – Children from foster families and adoptive families are usually at risk of FAS – adds Katarzyna Maciołek, director of the Regional Center for Social Welfare in Łódź.
Full-blown FAS accounts for only 10 percent of all developmental disorders in children whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Main photo source: Facts after noon