Grant Allows MDCH To Tackle FAS: Creates Awareness and Promotes Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 18, 2005

In an effort to reduce birth defects, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is joining forces with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to promote awareness of and more effectively deal with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

MDCH was awarded $450,000 from the CDC annually through 2008 to research and reduce the prevalence of FAS throughout the state. The project aims to reduce alcohol consumption by women anticipating pregnancy, increase contraceptive use among women who consume alcohol, increase access to FAS diagnostic services through Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, and determine the prevalence of FAS in the city of Detroit.

“Current data shows that 52 percent of childbearing age women drink,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “Most women reduce or stop drinking when they know they are pregnant, but serious and devastating birth defects occur only days after conception, before most women even know they are pregnant.”

This is the first project of its kind in Michigan and will provide information on best practices that can be incorporated in other communities across the state. Through small community grants, MDCH has been providing outreach and education about FAS since the early 1990s. The department also helps support other FAS Diagnostic Clinics in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Marquette.

“Too many Michigan babies are born with birth defects or are dying from something that can easily be prevented by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General. “This project proactively provides citizens with the information they need to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of FAS.”

"Knowledge is powerful and during this month of awareness about fetal alcohol syndrome and how it can be prevented, it is our hope that women considering getting pregnant get the facts,” said Yvonne Blackmond, Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy.

Additional information on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be found at www.michigan.gov/mdch or www.cdc.gov.