HHSC Offers Webinar on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

During National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month in September, the HHSC Office of Disability Prevention for Children is offering a free webinar on prevention and resources open to the public.

“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Impacts, Prevention and Support Strategies” will be offered in partnership with the Texas FASD Network from 10–11:30 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 7. Register for the webinar.

Presenters include Sherry Sellers Vinson, M.D., M.Ed., and Carissa Dorris, parent and certified trauma-competent caregiver with Texas Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network. The Texas FASD Network provides year-round support and resources for parents and caregivers.

According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) can have a range of effects for a person prenatally exposed to alcohol. Nearly 100,000 newborns in the U.S. are exposed during their prenatal development to heavy drinking or binge drinking, which are the biggest risk factors for FASDs.

FASDs are among the most preventable birth defects, and HHS works with partners and stakeholders to promote awareness and education.

“FASD is a significant public health issue that affects thousands of children and families,” said Jay Smith, HHSC program manager. “Our goal is to partner with community stakeholders to strengthen FASD prevention and support efforts for children and families throughout Texas.”

Exposure to alcohol in any amount can be potentially unsafe for a developing baby from conception through the third trimester. An alcohol-free pregnancy is the safest option. If alcohol was used during pregnancy, parents are urged to talk with their doctor to monitor their baby’s growth and development.

In addition to the webinar, HHSC has developed a free online course, “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Promoting Early Identification and Support for Children,” to educate providers and others about the importance of seeking early diagnosis, referrals and support for children who have a variety of FASDs, including those with subtle effects who might be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. The course is available on the Texas Health Steps website.

For more information, visit the HHS ODPC webpage.