Sept. 9 is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention and Support Day in B.C., an opportunity to raise awareness around the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy and to support healthy women, their infants and their families.
Health Canada estimates nine in every 1,000 infants are born with FASD, making it the leading known preventable cause of brain damage and developmental disability in Canada. FASD is an umbrella term that describes the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications.
Every year on the ninth day of the ninth month, people in British Columbia and around the world mark the day by launching awareness campaigns and holding community events to increase understanding about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. The number nine was chosen to reflect the nine months of pregnancy.
To mark FASD Prevention and Support Month, FASD awareness materials - counter decals, brochures and posters that feature a pregnant woman and her partner - are featured in all 195 BC Liquor Stores throughout the province. This month-long focus on FASD awareness is in addition to the permanent signage that appears in all BC Liquor Stores and the brochure that is always available in-store and on the BC Liquor Stores website.
Through partnerships between the provincial government, health authorities, school districts and community organizations, FASD programs and supports are available throughout B.C. to help affected children and families:
- Regional health authorities, in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority provide assessment and diagnosis services for children with complex developmental behavioural conditions, including children who may have FASD.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development delivers the Key Worker and Parent Support program to give families personalized assistance and information specific to their needs.
- The Ministry of Education established the Provincial Outreach Program for FASD to help teachers and other school district staff increase their understanding of FASD.
- In 2011, the B.C. government launched the Healthy Families BC strategy that includes Healthy Start. Healthy Start provides prenatal and postpartum support to all expectant mothers, and nurses offer aid to at-risk mothers to promote healthy pregnancies.
- Adults with FASD are able to seek services through Community Living BC's Personalized Supports Initiative, introduced in 2010.
Promoting healthy practices during pregnancy through public education and awareness is part of B.C.'s 10-year FASD Strategic Plan (2008-2018).
As a leader in FASD prevention, diagnosis, assessment, and intervention, B.C. is a member of the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership, an alliance of the four western provinces and three territories that works together to enhance prevention, diagnosis and support. The Partnership supports research in FASD through the Canada FASD Research Network: www.canfasd.ca
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"We know there is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy, just as there is no safe amount or safe type of alcohol. While FASD is preventable, it is not curable. That's why we have a shared responsibility to encourage healthy pregnancies and to help the individuals and families who deal with FASD each and every day."
Terry Lake, Minister of Health -
"No matter a mother's income, education or background, drinking alcohol during pregnancy puts her baby at risk of FASD. By providing all British Columbians with information, resources and support regarding healthy pregnancies, we're working to ensure families make the best possible choices for their babies."
Resources for expectant mothers and new parents: www.bestchance.gov.bc.ca
Information on healthy pregnancies and raising a healthy family: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Information on FASD, provincial prevention strategies and programs to assist children and families: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/fasd
Help for educators in meeting the learning needs of students with FASD: www.fasdoutreach.ca
To view and order BC Liquor Stores' FASD awareness posters and brochures, go to: www.bcliquorstores.com/alcohol-pregnancy
To learn more about research on FASD, visit: www.canfasd.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development