Jerome Romero is the Director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Prevention Program at the University of New Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions. For the past 17 years he has been educating New Mexicans on the hazards of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Funding for this program originally came from the State of New Mexico, however, because of budget issues within the State, the State unfortunately zeroed out this budget. This program is too valuable to lose. Jerome has been doing this job so long because this birth defect, which is the number one cause of mental retardation in the United States, is 100% preventable. If we can educate people on the importance of not drinking alcohol during pregnancy, we can eliminate this birth defect.
Jerome has learned over the past 17 years that pregnant women, and women that have children all want to be good moms. A 16-year-old young lady, who was 3 months pregnant, once told Jerome that she did not want to hurt her baby when she first found out about FAS and she knew she had been drinking. All she wanted was to be a good mommy, and for the rest of her pregnancy she was worried that she might have caused damage to her baby. What should have been the happiest time of her life was tainted with the knowledge that drinking alcohol can cause damage to a baby.