Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the leading cause of developmental disabilities in Canada, but the good news is that FASD is 100 % preventable. September 9th was FASD Awareness Day and it was an excellent opportunity to educate women about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It was also an important reminder that we as a community have a role in supporting women who are pregnant so they are able to make healthy choices and in supporting children and adults affected by FASD.
There are many different reasons why people drink during pregnancy like:
“My grandma drank while she was pregnant with my dad he turned out fine.”
“We are way too cautious now-a-days, a few drinks isn’t going to hurt.”
“People in the UK and European countries often drink during pregnancy, North Americans worry way too much.”
Through my work at United Way I have seen first-hand the results of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the lifelong affects it has on the people. The Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network website states that, “People with FASD are at high risk of having birth defects, learning disabilities, chronic health issues, drug addiction, alcoholism and mental illness.” Another startling fact is that researchers believe that as many as 9 births in a 1000 are affected with FASD. The sad thing is there is no cure for FASD and it is 100% preventable.
I know that many of us (including myself) often think, “That won’t happen to me” but FASD affects people from all walks of life. So to those who may be considering have a drink or two during pregnancy, just make sure you understand the risks you are taking. Because it is still not known how much alcohol is considered “safe” during pregnancy, I am choosing not to drink alcohol during my pregnancy.
For more information on FASD, visit http://edmontonfetalalcoholnetwork.wordpress.com/
Angela Wilson is a Communications Specialist with Success By 6®, a community initiative managed by United Way and is a soon-to-be baby mama.
Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network http://www.region6fasd.ca/home.php
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome http://www.nofas.org/family/