Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/22/1993 01:33 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
The next order of business was HCR 7 (ALCOHOL-RELATED BIRTH DEFECTS AWARENESS WEEK), sponsored by Representative Nicholia. PAT JACKSON, legislative staff to Representative Irene Nicholia, said many years have been spent working on the issues of alcohol-related birth defects. Legislation has been passed that required school districts do in- service. The Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse has made treatment to pregnant women a priority. There is a treatment program in Anchorage for pregnant women and there are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) awareness groups. Ms. Jackson indicated that in the committee member's packets there is a 1989 study which shows the economic impact of a FAS child. She indicated the lifetime cost for a FAS child is $1.4 million. The study didn't include estimates for physical problems such as facial problems, kidney problems, dental work, etc. The Center for Disease Control has completed a study giving new estimates of the rate of FAS in Alaska at 2.1 to 6.6 children per every 1,000. Ms. Jackson urged support for HCR 7. SENATOR LEMAN indicated support for the resolution as it draws more attention to FAS. SUZANNE PERRY, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Department of Health and Social Services, said she is the former FAS coordinator for the division. She pointed out that FAS was officially identified by the American Medical Society in 1973. She said there are still doctors who encourage pregnant women to have a drink or two as it will relax them. She said there must be three criteria to have a diagnosis of FAS and if any one of those criteria is missing, then the diagnosis, if any, may be Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE). One criteria is retarded growth prior to birth and after birth. She said there are specific facial features and showed the committee some photos. There is always central nervous system involvement, most commonly mental retardation. Ms. Perry continued to show the committee pictures, from the University of Washington, relating to FAS and discussed problems and physical features of FAS children. Ms. Perry said once a woman quits drinking, she can't have a child with FAS in a subsequent pregnancy. She discussed treatment centers for women who drink such a Reflections which is a twelve bed women's only treatment facility in Anchorage. Dena Acoy, which is jointly funded with the Indian Health Service and the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, is an 18 bed facility where women can stay throughout their entire pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum. Ms. Perry said she believes that FAS is like drunk driving. Until society shares some of the responsibility, we will continue to have serious problems. CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked Ms. Perry what she can confirm about health professionals advising that moderate drinking is alright during pregnancy. MS. PERRY said she has not talked to a doctor that says that, but she has heard statements from women that have seen their doctors within the last two years who have been told that a couple glasses of wine or beer will relax you. The Center of Disease Control, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Services, is running a five year program in Anchorage to do surveillance to find out what the real rates for FAS are throughout the state. Part of the project is to do a knowledge, attitudes, and behavior survey for pediatricians and obstetricians. Chairman Rieger indicated he had a proposed amendment that the resolution be sent to the Board of Nursing, the State Medical Boards, and the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives. He moved Amendment #1. SENATOR SALO suggested including the Board of Nurse Practitioners. Chairman Rieger referred to the Alaska Statutes and said he doesn't believe there is a Board of Nurse Practitioners but there are definitions of a "nurse practitioner." Hearing no objection, to Amendment #1, the motion carried. Number 577 Senator Salo moved to pass HCR 7 out of the Senate HESS Committee with a `Do Pass' recommendation. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.