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Rotarians back healthy brains for children

As an invited guest of the Brainerd Lakes Sunrise Rotary Club yesterday, I was impressed by one of the projects the group has taken on —“Healthy Brains For Children,” (HBFC) which seeks out pregnant mothers-to-be asking them to refrain from drinking alcohol during their pregnancy.

“The purpose of Healthy Brains for Children is to increase the awareness of devastation of prenatal exposure to alcohol and to promote the healthy pratice of refraining from drinking alcohol during and immediately after each pregnancy,” according to information published by HBFC. This project educates mothers, teachers, principals, superintendents, college students and human service providers about the dangers of indulging in alcohol during a woman’s pregnancy.

It was noted that on Minnesota’s Indian reservations the rate of children with alcohol syndrome in school is estimated at 80 percent. In the general population the rate is 20 percent. That means that children born to women who have consumed alcohol during their pregnancy have moderate to severe brain damage.

The goal of the Healthy Brains for Children is to provide community-wide awareness of the problem. The long-term goal is to “lower incidents of academic and social behaviors that are a result of brain damage from prenatal exposure to alcohol, a condition called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” according to information from literature handed out at the meeting.

Here are a few statistics that Healthy Brains for Children points to: Over 60 percent of Minnesota women are drinking during their child-bearing years; about 50 percent of women report either an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. These two facts combined show up to 30 percent of babies are being prenatally exposed to alcohol at some level in their vulnerable first trimester before the mother realizes she is pregnant, HBFC published.

Efforts such as Healthy Brains for Children is a great cause and deserves our community’s support.

For information contact Healthy Brains for Children at (218) 829-6194.

—Keith Hansen