LAKE MARY, Fla. - Lindsey and Spencer Munns are parents to four little ones, ages one to six, and you'd never know it from looking at the children, but two of their four -- twins adopted at birth -- have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Haven't heard of it? Neither have a lot of people.
"What’s really frustrating is statistic shows one in 20 kids have this. That's two-and-a-half, three times more common than autism," explains Spencer.
"It's more prevalent than autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Tourette's combined, and yet it gets very little funding and accommodations," added Lindsey.
The couple started to notice something wasn’t quite right with the twins at about eight months as a mother's instinct kicked into overdrive. One doctor asked if it possible there was alcohol exposure during pregnancy.
Lindsey said it turned out the biological mother did drink for two months before she knew she was pregnant.
Experts say FASD often goes undiagnosed because alcohol is legal, socially acceptable and many women do drink before they know they're expecting.
"Every state of a woman's pregnancy is very fragile, so if a woman uses alcohol, if the heart is developing during that week, the heart could be damaged. The brain is developing during the entire nine months, so the brain is extremely vulnerable to the effects of alcohol," says Dr. Kristie Skogland.
Dr. Skogland is CEO of the Florida Center for Early Childhood, the only FASD clinic in the state. She says speech and motor delays, learning challenges, and behavioral issues all can result from drinking while pregnant.
"If you are of childbearing age and you are sexually active just know you can get pregnant and understand the implications of alcohol on the developing brain," she says.
The couple says their twins have some behavioral issues and one has silent seizures, but thanks to Lindsey's instincts, early diagnosis and intervention have made a difference.
The Munns have now become strong advocates for FASD awareness, calling it their passion and mission in life.
For more information on the Florida Center for Early Childhood, you can visit their website.