FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Randy Randleman
Phone: (405) 557-7375
Contact: State Rep. Cynthia Roe
Phone: (405) 557-7365
Two pieces of legislation addressing fetal alcohol syndrome today passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Exposure of a developing baby to alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities that may last a lifetime. Nationally, about 40,000 newborns are born with fetal alcohol syndrome every year.
House Bill 3406, by Rep. Randy Randleman (R-Eufala), would add one hour of training on fetal alcohol syndrome for every person undergoing the foster parent certification process.
“Newborns suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome have a unique set of needs, and we want to be sure that, while these babies are in state custody, they’re in homes of foster parents who understand their needs and can probably take care of them,” Randleman said. Randleman is a licensed psychologist.
House Bill 3406 passed the House by a 79-16 vote.
Later on Tuesday, Rep. Cynthia Roe presented House Bill 3560, which deals with the screening of alcohol use disorders in pregnant women.
House Bill 3560 would require any woman who screens positive for alcohol use disorder will be referred to the Oklahoma Dept. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) in an attempt to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome in newborns.
“Physician offices are already screening women for alcohol use during their pregnancies,” Roe, a nurse practitioner, said. “By providing references and resources pregnant women whose children may be at risk for fetal syndrome, I hope that we can reduce the number of children born with this condition.”
House Bill 3560 will also allow hospital personnel to be made aware of alcohol use disorder in pregnant women who did not seek services so staff can render appropriate care to the newborn, such as being made aware of potential for withdrawal. The bill does not involve the Dept. of Human Services or law enforcement.
House Bill 3560 passed 89-8. Both bills are now available to be considered in the Senate.