Prenatal Exposure to Opioids and Marijuana a Growing Concern to NOFAS

New Mission Statement, Purpose and Strategic Objectives Reinforce Attention to Alcohol and Pregnancy, Add Focus on Prenatal Risk of Opioids, Marijuana and Other Substances of Abuse

NOFAS has extended its mission and priorities to include the dissemination of information about the prenatal risks of tobacco, heroin and other opioids, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

The new language underlines the NOFAS commitment to individuals and families living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and the organization’s attention to alcohol and pregnancy education and prevention, while now also addressing other substances of abuse known to harm fetal development.

Another new NOFAS objective is to spread information about healthy practices during pregnancy such as early prenatal care, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, and approaches to reduce stress.

Read the new NOFAS mission statement, vision, purpose, and strategic objectives.

Upon the recommendation of NOFAS Board Member, Mark Skibbie, a new Strategic Planning Committee of the NOFAS Board of Directors, chaired by Douglas Waite, MD, was formed in the fall of 2016 to review the mission statement and other organizational language.

NOFAS Board Chair, Kate Boyce, Board Members, William Edwards, Leigh Tenkku Lepper, PhD and Sam Zakhari, PhD, and NOFAS staff also serve on the committee.

Increasingly, NOFAS is asked for information about the prenatal risk of using substances of abuse together with alcohol, and the national opioid crisis and the growing legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has brought these substances into the conversation about prenatal health and increased investment in research into their effects on human development.

View information on the prenatal risks associated with tobacco, marijuana, opioids, and other substances of abuse.

The committee also considered the persistent challenges the FASDs community has faced raising support from foundations and other non-government sources, due in part to misconceptions about the significance and facets of FASDs, a lack of resources and widespread interventions for individuals with FASDs, a resistance to alcohol avoidance messages, and a stigma surrounding the issue that can result in an attitude of blame rather than empathy toward birth families and individuals.

If a broader focus on all substances known to harm fetal development positions NOFAS as more appealing to private donors, the committee believes it could help expand resources to address the fundamental mission of NOFAS, the prevention of prenatal alcohol exposure and the development of greater resources for children and adults living with FASDs.