Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is the number one cause of preventable defects. Prevention is obviously the most effective way to deal with what can only be described as a human tragedy. It is so much easier to prevent birth defects than to deal with the aftermath. The project is designed to be a triad effort: an autobiography, a broadcast and DVD documentary, and an on-going public speaking /educational-outreach tour, specifically targeting high-school students.
It is now widely accepted by the medical community that there is no amount of alcohol that a woman can safely ingest during pregnancy, without possible adverse effects to the developing fetus. Education is the most cost effective way of combating this epidemic. UCLA , FASD Western Regional Center reports that 12-23% of women of childbearing age report binge drinking (5 drinks in 1 sitting), the CDC reported in 2004 that 12% of pregnant women in the U.S. reported some alcohol use, i.e. 1 in 8 is an alcohol-exposed pregnancy; incredibly, 1.9 – 3.9% of pregnant women report frequent or BINGE DRINKING! (CDC, 2004; SAMHSA, 2005). Sadly, in families in which one child is diagnosed with FAS, the incidence of FAS among younger siblings is a staggering 77%+, a virtual pandemic. Obviously, education is the most effective approach – and the most cost-effective.
COSTS TO CALIFORNIA
In the 10 year period 2002 – 2011, per the state of California, there were an average of 537,000 live births annually; a high of 566,137 (2007) to a low of 502,023 (2011). The range of children born affected by FASD, in one of its many forms and severities, ranges .5% to 2%, depending on different sources, with about 1% being an accepted industry norm (UCLA, FASD Western Regional Training Center). BUT, according to a study of 1992 birth data, approximately 10% of live births in most California counties were “tox positive”: the babies had alcohol and/or illegal drugs in their systems at birth. The estimated dollar costs to society, both public and private, in additional needed resources over a lifetime, for each victim, is approximately $1.4 Million (per the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – NOFAS – the Nation’s most recognized advocacy group).
Katie is the face of FAS, not just an abstract concept and statistic, for millions of people, unaware of how prevalent and life altering FASD/FAS are…and how preventable! Katie’s mother drank heavily all during her pregnancy, with devastating consequences. Katie was born with a number of problems: she is legally blind, her corpus collosum (the connector of hemispheres of her brain) didn’t form, dysmorphology (facial asymmetry), etc. Katie’s is an inspirational true story of a young woman who has overcome huge obstacles to lead as normal life as possible. Katie is charming and well educated and possesses a high I.Q. She is a self taught musician and vocalist. She is also a gifted public speaker, comfortable in an intimate setting or in front of large crowds, who begins her testimony with, “Hi, I’m Katie, I drank for nine months and then I was born!”
Grass Valley woman educates others about fetal alcohol syndrome
“When Katie Reichert stands up to address a group of young people, her opening sentence is always the same.
“Hi, I’m Katie,” she says. “I drank for nine months — and then I was born.”
While her introductory comment might get an initial chuckle, Katie’s core message is anything but funny.”
Read more from this article published in The Union.