Monday, August 27, 2012

Why I Get so Worked Up

Children affected by alcohol in utero are NOT a rare occasion. Each year in the United States, by the most conservative estimates,  40,000 babies are born with FASD.  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).  Recent in-school studies suggest that cases of FASD among live births in the U.S., previously reported as approximately 9 per 1,000 (Sampson et al., 1997) could, in reality, be closer to 50 per 1,000 (May, 2009). In addition, recent retrospective analyses of hospital admissions data indicate that under-reporting of alcohol misuse or harm by women may further disguise true prevalence rates (Morleo et al., 2011).  According to data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, thirty-seven percent of babies born in the U.S. are unplanned. Also published from current CDC research, 1 in 2 women not trying to conceive have reported drinking alcohol in the past thirty days.  Doing the math, as many as 18.5% of the babies born in the US could be accidentally exposed to Alcohol before their mothers even know they are pregnant!!!

If you want some comparison points, less than 1% of children in the US have Autism Spectrum Disorders or Asperger’s, 3% are diagnosed with Down’s.  FASD afflicts a larger percentage than all 3 combined! But the amount of medical resources and scientific research directed at FASD is miniscule compared to the others. In fact the only childhood affliction to outpace FASD is ADHD/ADD – and in many cases children being treated for this are in fact children with FASD.  Fully 80% of the trickle of money that is directed to FASD is spent on education campaigns to try and stop women from drinking while pregnant. Don’t get me wrong – I think that is important but SO IS HELPING THE CHILDREN THAT ALREADY HAVE THIS ISSUE.

What kills me how hard I have to fight for Little Man to get help anywhere no less in the school system. I mean I will take it out of the personal for a minute and just look at the numbers. If we take a conservative estimate - 7% of the children in the US have alcohol related disabilities - then it’s reasonable to assume 7% of the kids in our county do, yes? For our county that means 405 kids!!! If you want to limit that to just full blown FAS at 3 % we are still talking about 173 children. Heck if we want to arrow in on just the population in Little Man’s primary school and stick with the 3% you still have 15 and if you look at the full range of affected children you have 35.
(Since my husband is active with the local rescue squad and we have friends and relatives in the police and social services for the county, I’m pretty comfortable telling you that this area would have to be at or above the national averages for alcohol related issues.) 

35 children, 35! That's more than a full classroom. So why the hell am I the one educating my son’s teacher on FASD and what children with it need from the school and class room environment? This is a freaking epidemic people.   I don't think teachers or administrators are bad.  Most are pretty awsome in fact, but they are always stuck trying to do too much with too few resources.  That is what makes me so damn mad.
Since the key to getting people’s attention appears to be money – let’s talk cost.

FASD costs the US an estimated
$5.4 billion annually.

Surely we could spare some money toward effective interventions to cut down on that tab, eh?

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