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Santa Clara County Leads Charge in FASDs Awareness and Prevention Efforts

By Nina Singh-Hudson

Hoodline on October 3, 2023

Santa Clara County has been making strides in tackling Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). September, nationally recognized as FASDs Awareness Month, offered an opportunity for the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) to highlight their efforts in addressing these disorders, and their pledge to extend these initiatives in the forthcoming years according to the County of Santa Clara press release issued today.

The BHSD's ambitious three-year work plan to prevent and address FASDs has seen progress in all targeted objectives.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors acknowledged the ongoing efforts and officially recognized September as FASDs Awareness Month during a proclamation on September 19. Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who initiated the proclamation, stressed the county's proactive measures to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment while increasing public awareness about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

For educating the communities, BHSD has supported public awareness campaigns like the NotEven1 media campaign since 2021 which aims to improve knowledge and awareness of FASDs.

Resulting of these efforts, the three preceding phases of the campaign garnered nearly 49,000,000 digital impressions and were broadcasted online, on local TV, and on local buses, mentions the press release. The latest phase of the campaign, initiated on September 25, is set to reach expecting mothers, breastfeeding mothers, those planning pregnancy, as well as partners and potential caregivers, by asserting that there is no safe quantum or type of alcohol for consumption while pregnant.

To further aid its efforts, BHSD in association with partner County agencies has begun a comprehensive training program on FASDs and prenatal substance exposure intended for service providers across Santa Clara County.

These trainings hope to bolster understanding among providers about FASDs and motivate agencies to introduce increased screenings for prenatal substance exposure, among their benefactors.

Up until now, training has been dispensed to staff in behavioral health, social services, obstetrics-gynecology, and public health nursing.

More training is slated for providers working in custody and education in September and October

Alongside raising awareness, Santa Clara County has also initiated crucial steps to improve FASDs diagnosis rates. Medical personal and behavioral health care providers and experts from the county convened on September 28 in a roundtable steered by Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a nationally acclaimed researcher in child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on newborns, children, and adolescents. The roundtable bore fruit, establishing standard diagnostic criteria for FASDs, which is likely to lead to enhanced detection and treatment support for those affected by these disorders, according to the aforementioned press release.

Original Article Reprinted from Hoodline and originally published October 3, 2023

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