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Hair stylists enlisted to raise awareness on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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Posted at 10:50 PM, Sep 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 00:50:47-04

SANDY, Utah -- A plea to mothers-to-be from a dad: Don’t drink alcohol while you’re expecting.

Dan Harrison knows more than anyone what living with a child who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is like.

“In a word itself- heartbreaking, helpless, frustrating and lonely experience," he said.

Harrison said the birth mother of his 17-year-old adopted son, Tommy, drank alcohol while she was expecting.

He said Tommy suffers from brain damage and learning disabilities because of his mom’s actions.

Harrison teared up as he explained how that choice impacts innocent children.

"These brave little souls, who through no fault of their own are facing a lifelong bewildering challenge," he said.

Harrison loves his son Tommy.

“He’s the bravest, strongest, most loving and genuine person I have ever met,” he said.

But he knows just how much that choice Tommy’s mother made has impacted his life.

According to the Utah Department of Health, 40,000 people like Tommy are born with FASD across the United States every year.

Harrison wants that to change, and he hopes it starts with 1,000 hair stylists across the state.

They’ll be raising awareness on the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and passing out educational packets to clients.

Stylists say their clients typically trust and confide in them.

"Salons are a great place to get information out,” said Great Looks Beauty Supply stylist Becky Sorensen. “Our clients will tell us a lot of times, especially about pregnancies, before they’ll tell anyone else."

The effort is part of We Love Babies Week, hosted by the Utah Department of Health and Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition.

While the campaign is unconventional, Harrison hopes it’ll make expecting mothers think twice before drinking alcohol.

"If we can get one woman to reconsider that decision and not do it because she heard it from her hair dresser then we'll have saved a life and it's worth it," Harrison said.