At 9:09 a.m., on September 9, the bells of the Community Church of Douglaston and Zion Episcopal Church will ring in an effort to help raise awareness about fetal alcohol syndrome.
But most of the people who hear them chime will not have any idea why the bells are ringing nor will they have the inclination to beg that question.
Susan Rose, the president of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Network of New York City and Long Island, a 12-year-old nonprofit that has been leading the charge locally against the condition, is on a mission to get the word out - and not just about the reason the bells will be ringing in two weeks.
"FAS is often referred to as 'the hidden disorder' because there aren't many people today who realize that a problem still exists, which makes the first goal to educate everyone that it does," Rose said.
An estimated 40,000 children are born in America each year with some form of fetal alcohol syndrome, she said.
"Perhaps what's even more shocking is that the new high-risk group to have babies with FAS are caucasian women in their 20s who are college educated and making over $50,000 per year," she added.
Rose attributes this staggering statistic to the fact that an unfortunate number of children, teens, young adults, parents and mothers, particularly in her home town of Douglaston, are unaware that even moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause disorders.
"Most people don't realize that alcohol is more dangerous to the unborn child than heroin, crack or cocaine, because the molecules in alcohol are small enough to travel through the placenta," Rose said.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a lifelong condition that is characterized by a set of physical, mental and neurobehavioral birth defects associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
"My message is simple—no amount of alcohol has been found safe to the unborn child. Even drinking just one glass of wine per day while pregnant can be enough to cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder," Rose said.
To find out more about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or for information on what one can do to help log on to http://www.fassn.org/