Formerly known as MOFAS: Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Exciting News
from MOFAS

If you're looking for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) you have come to the right place. We have some exciting news about our organization. We have a new name! MOFAS has officially been renamed Proof Alliance. Our mission remains the same: to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and to improve the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Why PR%F

We now have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading cause of brain injury in children. We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable and people living with an FASD can reach 100% of their potential.

Why Alliance?

We seek to build powerful alliances with people with an FASD, their families, legislators, experts in the field, new partners, and community members to bring awareness, research, and services to this field.

What's Next?

Proof Alliance is rebranding, expanding, and we're moving! We have a new logo, website, and prevention campaign to help change the norms around drinking during pregnancy. And in May 2019 we will be moving to a stand-alone building. Proof Alliance commits to the people of Minnesota and we will continue to develop transformative programs to help Minnesotans impacted by FASD.

Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drugs During Pregnancy

Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drugs During Pregnancy PDF

Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drugs During Pregnancy

Effects of Different Substances1-23

Alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects on the fetus of any of these different substances.24 Using multiple substances during pregnancy further increases the number of health risks that may impact the fetus.25 We have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the United States.26 We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable.27

Effect on ChildAlcoholOpioidsMethCocaineMarijuana
Growth DeficiencyXXXXX
Behavioral ImpairmentsXXXXX
Cognitive ImpairmentsXXXXX
Motor DeficitsXX
Developmental DelaysXX
Facial AnomaliesX
Physical EffectsXXXX

Alcohol causes more harm than many illegal substances

Just because a drug or substance is legal, such as alcohol, does not mean it is safe to use during pregnancy. The Institute of Medicine states “Of all the substances of abuse including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in the fetus resulting in life-long, permanent disorders.”24

Alcohol is a teratogen

A teratogen is an agent that causes birth defects; examples are mercury, lead, and alcohol. More than forty years of research has proven that prenatal alcohol exposure impedes growth and disrupts normal development. Science definitively recognizes that when a pregnant person drinks alcohol, the alcohol crosses the placenta into the blood supply of the developing fetus.28

A fetus can’t process alcohol

Developing fetuses have a very limited ability to process alcohol with their liver, which is not fully formed until after birth. The alcohol a pregnant person consumes stays in the baby’s bloodstream even after the pregnant person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.0%.28 According to Dr. Yasuko Yamamura, MD, OB/GYN, “The fetal liver is actually quite immature and doesn’t have the same enzymes to metabolize alcohol, [so] when the alcohol passes across the placenta, the alcohol passes essentially unmetabolized into the amniotic fluid. The fetus actually drinks that amniotic fluid, perpetuating the exposure to alcohol.”29

There is no safe amount or type of alcohol to consume during pregnancy

Any amount of alcohol, even if it’s just one glass of wine, passes from the mother to the embryo or fetus. Overall, the scientific community, including the U.S. Surgeon General30 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention31, continues to advise that there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. There is also no safe time while pregnant to drink32 and it makes no difference if the alcohol is wine, beer, liquor, or distilled spirits (vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, etc.).33

FASD impacts us all

  • As many as 1 in 20 children in the United States have an FASD.34
  • In Minnesota, 40% of pregnancies are unplanned.35 The developing embryo can be impacted before pregnancy status is confirmed.
  • Minnesota is ranked number 6 for the highest binge drinking rates in the U.S.36
  • 1 in 9 pregnancies are exposed to alcohol.37


  1. Treit S, Zhou D, Chudley AE, et al. Relationships between Head Circumference, Brain Volume and Cognition in Children with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(2):1-15.
  2. Feldman HS, et al. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Patterns and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects and Growth Deficiencies: A Prospective Study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2012;36(4):670-676.
  3. Noor S, Milligan ED. Lifelong Impacts of Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Neuroimmune Function. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018.
  4. Flak AL, Su S, Bertrand J, Denny CH, Kesmodel US, Cogswell ME. The association of mild, moderate, and binge prenatal alcohol exposure and child neuropsychological outcomes: A Meta-analysis. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014;38(1):214-26.
  5. Westrup, S. (2013). Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: as prevalent as autism?. Educational Psychology in Practice, 29(3), 309-325.
  6. Sawada Feldman H, Lyons Jones K, Lindsay S, et al. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Patterns and Alcohol-Related Birth Defects and Growth Deficiencies: A Prospective Study. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2012;36(4):670-676.
  7. Gauthier TW. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Developing Immune System. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 2015;37(2):e1-e7.
  8. Noor S, Milligan ED. Lifelong Impacts of Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Neuroimmune Function. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018.
  9. Taggart TC, Simmons RW, Thomas JD, Riley EP. Children with Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Exhibit Atypical Gait Characteristics. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2017;41(9):1648-1655.
  10. Zhang A, Marshall R, Kelsberg G, Safranek S. What effects–if any–does marijuana use during pregnancy have on the fetus or child? The Journal of Family Practice. 2017;66(7):462-466.
  11. Crume TL, Juhl AL, Brooks-Russell A, Hall KE, Wymore E, Borgelt LM. Cannabis use during the perinatal period in a state with legalized recreational and medical marijuana: The association between maternal characteristics, breastfeeding partners, and neonatal outcomes. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2018;197:90-96.
  12. Wu CS, Jew CP, Lu HC. Lasting impacts of prenatal cannabis exposure and the role of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain. Future Neurol. 2011;6(4):459–480.
  13. Irner TB. Substance exposure in utero and developmental consequences in adolescence: A systematic review. Child Neuropsychology. 2012;18(6):521-549.
  14. Yazdy MM, Desai RJ, Brogly SB. Prescription opioids in pregnancy and birth outcomes: A review of the literature. Journal of Pediatrics Genetics. 2015;4:56-70.
  15. Honein MA, Boyle C, Redfield RR. Public health surveillance of prenatal opioid exposure in mothers and infants. Pediatrics. 2019;143(3).
  16. Lind JN, et al. Maternal use of opioids during pregnancy and congenital malformations: A systematic review. Pediatrics. 2017;139(6).
  17. Lambert BL, Bauer CR. Developmental and behavioral consequences of prenatal cocaine exposure: A review. Journal of Perinatology. 2012;32:819-828.
  18. Abar B, et al. Examining the relationships between prenatal methamphetamine exposure, early adversity, and child neurobehavioral disinhibition. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 2013;27(3):662-673.
  19. LaGasse LL, Derauf C, Smith LM, et al. Prenatal methamphetamine exposure and childhood behavior problems at 3 and 5 years of age. Pediatrics. 2012;129(4):681–688.
  20. Smith LM, et al. Prenatal methamphetamine use and neonatal neurobehavioral outcome. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2008;30(1):20-28.
  21. Janisse JJ, Bailey BA, Ager J, Sokol RJ. Alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and marijuana use: Relative contributions to preterm delivery and fetal growth restriction. Substance Abuse. 2014;35:60-67.
  22. Hackshaw A, Rodeck C, Boniface S. Maternal smoking in pregnancy and birth defects: a systematic review based on 173 687 malformed cases and 11.7 million controls. Hum Reprod Update. 2011;17(5):589–604.
  23. Bruin JE, Gerstein HC, Holloway AC. Long-term consequences of fetal and neonatal nicotine exposure: A critical review. Toxicological Sciences. 2010;116(2):364-374.
  24. Sakamoto DT. Public Health Hotline: A Proposal for Achieving Health Equity for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Maddock J, Hayes D, St. John TL, Rajan R eds. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2012;71(5):132–135.
  25. Nygaard E, Moe V, Slinning K, Walhovd KB. Longitudinal cognitive development of children born to mothers with opioid and polysubstance use. Pediatr Res. 2015;78(3):330-335.
  26. Williams JF, Smith VC. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics. 2015;136(5):e1395-406.
  27. Hubberstey C, Rutman D, Hume S, Van Bibber M, Poole N. Toward an Evaluation Framework for Community- Based FASD Prevention Programs. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. 2015;30(1):79-89.
  28. Burd J, Dropps K. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure, Blood Alcohol Concentrations and Alcohol Elimination rate for mother, fetus and newborn. Journal of Perinatology. 2012;32:652-659.
  29. Dr. Yasuko Yamamura. “OB/GYN Speak the Truth.”
  30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Notice to Readers: Surgeon General’s Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy.
  31. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).
  32. MedlinePlus. Fetal Development.
  33. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol Use in Pregnancy.
  34. May et al. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities. JAMA. 2018; 319(5): 474-482.
  35. Guttmacher Institute. State Facts About Unintended Pregnancy: Minnesota.
  36. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017.
  37. Denny CH, et al. Consumption of alcohol beverages and binge drinking among pregnant women aged 18-44 years — United States, 2015-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2019;68(16):365-368.

Last updated: June 2019

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