On September 9, many Saskatchewan communities were to be inviting people to barbecues, walks, or to enjoy mocktails (non-alcoholic drinks). It is FASD Awareness Day.
One way of preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is to spread the word that a healthy pregnancy doesn’t include alcohol. A healthy pregnancy includes: regular visits with a health care provider, healthy eating, taking prenatal vitamins, exercising, and avoiding stress.
There is a lot of confusing information about pregnancy and alcohol and people aren’t sure what to do. The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute believes that providing education about FASD prevention will eliminate the confusion. Research shows that: alcohol is a dangerous drug and is harmful to developing babies; any type of alcohol (wine, beer, cooler, hard liquor) can harm the baby; there is no known safe amount to drink; alcohol crosses the placenta and reaches the developing baby; when the mother drinks, she and her unborn baby have the same blood alcohol content; because the unborn baby’s liver is still growing, it takes a long time to get rid of alcohol, giving it more time to damage the baby’s developing cells; and the damage to the cells can cause a physical and brain-based disability that cannot be cured.
Half of pregnancies are not planned, which means many women are drinking before they know they are pregnant. Most women stop drinking as soon as they ﬁ nd out. If they have been drinking, they may worry that alcohol has caused harm. No one can say, for certain, if damage has been done. Every baby develops differently and can be affected differently. Stopping alcohol and talking with a health care provider can help. Each day without alcohol is good for the developing baby.
Only 10 per cent of children born with FASD have visible signs. Often the mental, physical, learning, and behaviour problems are not obvious until the child is older. Because of this, many children (and adults) do not receive the help they need to be successful. Early recognition and diagnosis can help children living with FASD to reach their potential. With the right supports, children may avoid some of the later problems that can develop, such as trouble in school.
Support, not judgement, makes a difference. It is not just a woman’s responsibility to prevent FASD.
On September 9, if you have the opportunity, join a walk, barbecue, or enjoy a tasty mocktail. Think about pregnancy and alcohol and how you can make a difference.
FASD Team Lead
Saskatchewan Prevention Institute