PSAs Feature Kids With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

By Kelly Burch 05/02/19

A new public health campaign is challenging the idea that light drinking — like having a glass of wine or a beer — is safe during pregnancy.

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fasd public health campaign - fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Photo via YouTube/Proof Alliance

A new public service announcement campaign features children and young adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, questioning the assumption that light or moderate drinking during pregnancy is safe.

The campaign was put together by the Proof Alliance, an organization that aims to educate people about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy, which can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The disorder causes a host of cognitive delays and other health issues.

While the health effects of heavy drinking while pregnant are widely acknowledged, the Proof Alliance wants to challenge the idea that light drinking — like having a glass of wine or a beer — is safe. The campaign highlights articles and social media posts that argue that drinking small amounts during pregnancy is safe, and then shows actors with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder pushing back on the idea.

“Alcohol is alcohol,” a boy says in one of the campaign’s videos.

“Drinking any amount during pregnancy is dangerous,” another boys says. “We have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and we are proof.”

The campaign points to research that indicates 1 in 20 American children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

In addition to the public service announcement videos, the Proof Alliance is also running billboard ads with blunt messages like “Placentas aren’t magical booze blockers,” “Drinking during pregnancy is the leading cause of preventable brain injury in the U.S.” and “Even a little red wine can give baby brain damage.”

The Proof Alliance also launched a website — DrinkingWhilePregnant.org — with strong images and messages designed to make a lasting impression.

“All major medical organizations advise abstaining completely from alcohol during pregnancy — from conception through birth,” the site reads.

“The problem with drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is that there is no amount that has been proven to be safe,” said Dr. Jacques Moritz, according to the website.

Although experts believe that the rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder might be underestimated, it is very difficult to accurately measure the condition.

“It's impossible to know what proportion of these deficits were caused by fetal alcohol exposure,” authors of a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found.

"We have long thought and believed that estimates that we had previously in the U.S. were pretty gross underestimates," Christina Chambers, a study author and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, told CNN at the time. "It's not an easy disorder to recognize."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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