Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention: Creating Health Literacy Awareness About the
Effects of Alcohol to the Unborn Child
Alcohol consumption among pregnant women is a growing problem not only in the U.S. but also to the rest of the world. Billions are spent treating birth defects and other symptoms related to prenatal alcohol drinking. Statistics done shows that treatment of the disorder costs the U.S. 6 billion dollars annually (Burd & Hardwood, 2004); adjust that to the current inflation rate and it could be as high as 8 million dollars. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Community Resource Center came up with $5.4 million dollars as the estimated expected lifetime costs for one child with FAS disorder in 2003. This includes direct cost (surgical corrections of FAS related birth defects, heart and auditory defects and moderate to severe mental retardation) and indirect cost (healthcare, special education, psychotherapy, counseling, crime and welfare). These extremely high costs clearly justify major prevention efforts not only from the government but also from the public. To achieve this goal, the public and the community must be educated about FAS, woman of child-bearing age; especially teenagers and school age children should and must be informed about the effects of alcohol on an unborn child before they even discover alcohol on their own (Donnelly, Mowery, & McCarver, 1998).
We begin by creating awareness of the problems through educational campaigns. “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Florida Resource Guide,” a brochure produced jointly by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Health, and the Florida State University Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy has this to say about FAS:
On any given day in the US, 10,657 babies are born; one is HIV positive, three are born with Muscular dystrophy, four are born with Spina Bifida, ten are born with Down Syndrome, twenty babies are born with FAS and 100 of these babies are born with Alcohol Related Neuro-developmental Disorder(ARND).
On this list, FAS is the only disorder that is completely preventable if a pregnant woman refrains from drinking alcohol (Boulter, 2007), thus, the government can save billions of dollars if we can educate and make pregnant women be fully aware about the effects of alcohol to their unborn baby, and stop them from drinking alcohol. Creating health literacy awareness about the effects of alcohol on the fetus is a daunting task. The challenge facing public health workers and educators lies in counteracting the effects of advertising to the public We live in an information overloaded society and we get bombarded with information everywhere; through commercial print, radio, Television, or even the Internet all compete for their fair share of the market with the “aim(ed) [to] of increase[e]ing brand awareness, brand loyalty, product demand, and consumer goods consumption.” Alcohol is one of these consumer goods advertised...