Washington, DC— U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced unanimous passage of a bill to bring greater awareness to the problem of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Johnson, a cosponsor and leading advocate of the bill, has been a long-time supporter of enhanced education on the issue. The bill would designate September 9, 2007, as National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day.
“I am so pleased the Senate passed this piece of legislation,” said Johnson. “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a problem in many areas, including my home state of South Dakota, and this will continue to raise awareness about the dangers of this disease.”
South Dakota suffers from one of the highest incidences of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the nation.
The goal of the bill is to call upon people across the country to observe the day with activities to promote awareness of the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol, increase compassion for individuals affected by the disease, minimize further effects of prenatal exposure, and ensure healthier communities across the U.S.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the largest cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the U.S. While FASD are 100 percent preventable, they remain a serious health issue today impacting approximately one in every 100 babies born every year in the United States. FASD affects more children than Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida and Muscular Dystrophy combined.
In 2005, Johnson introduced legislation to advance research, prevention, and services for FASD. The legislation contained provisions to require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda for FASD, improve screening and identification of FASD, and facilitate the development of statewide FASD systems and community partnerships.