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International FASD Awareness Day

by ​Karen Huber

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities.

September 9th is International FASD Awareness Day. Proclamations are issued all throughout the world that raises awareness of the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Here, in Waterloo Region, a book reading is planned with Linda Rosenbaum, mother and author of the book “Not Exactly As Planned”. It is her family’s story of raising a son with FASD. Everyone is welcome and details can be found at www.fasdwaterlooregion.ca

September 9th is an important day that brings to the forefront the importance of not drinking alcohol during pregnancy but this is an issue that must be addressed every day of the year.

What can everyone do to help? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Educate Yourself - FASD is the leading cause of developmental disability in Canada. New estimates show that 3-5% of the population is affected by the disability. FASD is caused when alcohol crosses the placenta of the mother to the fetus and causes damage to the fetus’ brain. FASD is often referred to as an “invisible disability” because there is no visible sign of the central nervous system damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with an FASD can have difficulty with learning, memory, attention, problem solving, social interactions, and mental health. Without proper support this can lead to school issues, difficulty holding a job and trouble with the law.
  2. Check Your Own Drinking - Be a role model. Canada has Low Risk Drinking Guidelines. Become familiar with them to lower your risk of developing an issue with alcohol. Both women of childbearing years and their partners can benefit from low-risk drinking that will help support healthy lifestyles choices and reduce short and long-term risks associated with alcohol including prenatal exposure to alcohol. Check out www.rethinkyourdrinking.ca for more information.
  3. Provide Support - Everyone can provide support to women who may become pregnant. About half of all pregnancies are unplanned in Canada and 80% of Canadian women drink. When we know this we need to be supportive and it is important to provide options for women who may become pregnant or are planning to be pregnant. Find some yummy mocktail recipes and serve them at your next party.
  4. Share the Message - In a nonjudgmental, supportive way, share the message with others that there is No Safe Time, No Safe Amount and No Safe Kind of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Encourage women who are pregnant not to drink and if they have trouble stopping, guide them to find professional help. Help can be found through a primary health care provider or at http://www.fasdwaterlooregion.ca/at-home/services-pregnant-or-parenting-...