|The Triumph Program is a program through Goodhue County Public Health Service that offers help to pregnant women who are having difficulties with drinking alcohol and using chemicals during their pregnancies. Triumph works with each woman to help her have the healthiest baby possible. By working with all the community resources available, the pregnant woman will feel strong and confident that she can make it through her pregnancy alcohol and drug-free.
Triumph also assists children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol in receiving a diagnosis, utilizing the expertise at the Fairview/University of Minnesota Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic Clinic. We can help families get services set in place, such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), Arc of Southeastern Minnesota, Minnesota Children of Special Health Needs, insurance needs, and others.
"Public Health Services helped me turn my life around. They helped me quit drinking as well as gave me encouragement in my ability to become a good mother. I thank God everyday that my son appears to show no signs of FAS or FAE. I hope that FAS continues to be addressed." – 35 year old Goodhue County mother.
What are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect?
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a medical condition in an individual that occurs when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Children with FAS have all three of the following characteristics:
- Special facial characteristics
- Small for age, in height and weight
- Brain and central nervous system injury/damage
Children with a related condition, fetal alcohol effect (FAE), have also been affected by alcohol, but will not have all three of the above characteristics. With FAE, it is important to know the mother’s history of alcohol use. The damage to the developing brain by alcohol exposure can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some of these are:
- Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Learning disabilities
- Difficulty with time, money, and numbers
- Inability to make "wise" decisions and choices
- Problems with daily living skills
- Overtly friendly—everyone is their friend
- Not afraid of things—will climb the highest slide
- Does not learn from mistakes
- IQ’s ranging from mental retardation to high on the scale
- Difficulty in school, trouble with the law, hard time holding down a job
- Unable to see consequences and understand them
The list goes on and on. And each individual affected by fetal alcohol exposure is unique.
Facts and Thoughts:
- There is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
- The sooner a woman quits drinking, the better it will be for both her and her baby.
- Children do not outgrow the effects of alcohol.
- It can be difficult for many women to quit drinking during pregnancy. It’s okay to ask for help.
- With support from others, women can make the choice not to drink.
- How big of a problem is FAS:
FAS is the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States and in Minnesota. It occurs three times more often than Down Syndrome and it is totally preventable. Minnesota has a high rate of drinking among girls and young women. This is a concern because women who start drinking early or drink expensively may be unable to quit when they become pregnant. Minnesota is fourth in the nation for high rates of women of childbearing age drinking alcohol.
- How much alcohol is safe for a pregnant woman to drink?
No level of alcohol during pregnancy can be considered safe. Since there is no research indicating a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the U.S. Surgeon General has recommended no alcohol during pregnancy. It is the safest choice.
- If a woman is drinking during pregnancy, should she quit?
Yes. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol deprives the baby of energy sources and materials needed for growth. Any woman who has been drinking during her pregnancy should quit drinking. The sooner she is able to quit drinking, the better it will be for both her and her baby. Partners of pregnant women can help by discouraging alcoholic use.
What can Triumph do?
- Help a pregnant woman have the healthiest baby she can.
- Help a pregnant woman feel strong and confident.
- Help a pregnant woman not to drink.
- Work with family members in supporting the pregnant woman and the affected family.
- Coordinate resources to meet the needs of the woman and the family with a diagnosed member.
- Aid in getting individuals diagnosed.
- Assist in finding resources, including medical, transportation, housing, and nutrition.
- Work closely with the school district to set up IEP’s.
- Provide community education about FAS and FAE.
- Build community awareness about FAS/FAE.
- Work with health care providers to meet the needs of pregnant women and diagnosed children.
Other valuable links and sites:
We strongly encourage you to check out MOFAS’ site for further links and information on FAS/FAE.