News Release

September 8, 2011

Contact: Carolyn Pennington, 860-679-4864

Media Advisory

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day Sept. 9

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most common recognizable cause of mental retardation. In Connecticut, FAS occurs in approximately 100 children each year.

“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is still completely preventable, but it continues to affect children worldwide,” explained Sharon Voyer Lavigne, a genetic counselor with the UConn Health Center. “The more attention we can draw to this ongoing problem, the more likely we are to prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Doing this will decrease the incidence of FAS and its related conditions,” she added.

“FAS represents the most severe expression of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders (FASD),” said Dr. Sally Rosengren, director of UConn’s Division of Human Genetics. “However, it only represents the tip of the iceberg. Alcohol is toxic to the developing brain and its effect cannot be reversed.”

FAS Awareness Day has been recognized on the ninth day of September every year since 1999. The ninth day of the ninth month was chosen as a reminder for women to abstain from drinking alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy.

Note: Lavigne, Rosengren and a local mother of two adopted children with FAS are available for interviews.

Sharon Voyer Lavigne is an internationally recognized genetic counselor that specializes in teratology and is the coordinator of the Connecticut Pregnancy Exposure Information Service (CPEIS), a statewide nonprofit that provides free counseling to women during pregnancy and lactation.

Dr. Sally Shulman Rosengren is a clinical geneticist, medical director of the CPEIS and director of UConn’s Division of Human Genetics. She has a special interest in FAS and its related conditions.

CPEIS is the Connecticut affiliate of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a North American nonprofit dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. CPEIS counselors are available to women toll-free at (800) 325-5391 or 860-523-6419.

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