There is a lot of mixed information about drinking alcohol during pregnancy. There are a variety of “studies” out there that give mixed results, there are old wives tales, and then there is the advice you get from anyone and everyone. I do enjoy a drink here and there – especially a good glass of wine – but when I was pregnant I didn’t take the risk. My thought was why risk the long term health of my baby for my own short term enjoyment – so I abstained from alcohol consumption during both of my pregnancies. I did however enjoy some Welch’s White Grape Juice – which is close enough to white wine to satisfy a craving.
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, “We do not know what, if any, amount of alcohol is safe. But we do know that the risk of a baby being born with any of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders increases with the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, as does the likely severity of the condition. And when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. Therefore, it’s in the child’s best interest for a pregnant woman to simply not drink alcohol”.
Today’s organization is here for education and support. The mission of MOFAS (Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is to eliminate disability caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy and to improve the quality of life for those living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) throughout Minnesota. They have a vision of a world in which women do not drink alcohol during pregnancy and people living with FASD are identified, supported and valued.
MOFAS was found in 1998 by Susan Carlson, the former First Lady of Minnesota. Susan had worked in the juvenile justice system for years and saw many kids cycling through the system not getting the help they needed, or even a recognition of the cause of their problems. Through Susan’s work with these kids, she noticed that many had possible prenatal alcohol exposure, which created special challenges in helping these kids be successful. At the time, there was no statewide resource for information and support for individuals and families impacted by FASD. Susan convened a Governor’s Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in 1997 to study the issue and in 1998 MOFAS was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
MOFAS continues serving as the leading voice and resource on FASD in Minnesota. They stand up for the rights of the FASD community, provide education and training so FASD is better understood, and work to ensure that all women know that there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy.
MOFAS offers many services around Minnesota. To families affected by FASD, they offer:
- The Virtual Family Center – A safe supportive online gathering place to find helpful information and share the joys and struggles of life with FASD with others who understand.
- Family Resource Coordinators – Individuals who offer encouragement and support. These family resource coordinators have their own FASD story and help serve as a voice for the FASD community around the state.
- Family Retreats – These are offered several times a year for families to come together in a fun and relaxed environment.
- Support Groups – These provide emotional support and allow people to share information and discuss common issues. They also offer the knowledge that families are not alone on this journey.
- MOFAS also offers a variety of classes, activities and trainings throughout Minnesota.
In addition, MOFAS provides public awareness and encourages women have “049” (zero alcohol for nine months). This year’s public awareness campaign features photos of young kids with drinks in their hands, such as the poster below.
There are many ways to become involved with MOFAS, including public policy advocates, mentors, fundraisers, event volunteers, and more. You can visit their website to sign up to become a volunteer.
FASD is caused when a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is common, costly, and is 100% preventable. You can learn more about MOFAS at www.mofas.org. You can also connect with them on Facebook and YouTube.