Native leaders tackle fetal alcohol issue

By Rachel D'oro

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 3:52 p.m. MDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Morgan Fawcett calls himself an alcoholic who is about to celebrate two decades of sobriety — on his 20th birthday.

Even though he is a non-drinker, the 19-year-old Juneau-born Tlingit blames alcohol for a host of ailments, including constant headaches, learning disabilities and constricted muscles. He was born with fetal alcohol syndrome after his mother drank heavily while pregnant.

Fawcett made his comments to Alaska Natives, American Indians and others who gathered Thursday in Anchorage for a two-day conference on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

State officials say Alaska Natives have greatly brought down the prevalence of the most severe form of FASD among Native newborns — fetal alcohol syndrome.

The rate of FAS, however, remains significantly higher among Alaska Natives than non-Native newborns in the state.

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