Infants who were exposed to alcohol in the womb can be born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a condition with a range of physical, mental, behavioural and developmental effects - including brain damage and birth defects, in severe cases.
Throughout Canada, an estimated nine in every 1,000 infants are born with FASD, making it the leading preventable cause of developmental disability. While treatment and support are available for those who are affected, there is still no known cure.
There is no known level of safe consumption for women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or about to breastfeed. The safest choice is to drink no alcohol at all.
FASD has no preferred ethnicity, gender or social class, and it exists in communities throughout the world, including yours.
On the occasion of FASD Prevention and Support Month (September) and FASD Prevention and Support Day (September 9), the Ministry of Children and Family Development would like to stress the importance of supporting women to be healthy and have healthy pregnancies, and of recognizing those who live with FASD every day of their lives.
If you are worried about your alcohol use, talk to your doctor, community health nurse, midwife or healthcare provider. Your local public health unit, health centre, Friendship Centre or health authority can all provide you with help, information and advice.
If you suspect that a family member may have FASD, talk with them about being diagnosed by a doctor. An early diagnosis can lead to interventions that will minimize the impact of FASD.
Throughout B.C., programs and supports are available to help children and families affected by FASD:
- 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 public health nurses work with 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.
Here are some further online FASD-related resources:
- The Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service: http://www.bc211.ca/adirs2.html
- Tips, tools and information 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
- BC Liquor Stores’ FASD awareness posters and brochures, including ordering information: www.bcliquorstores.com/alcohol-pregnancy
To view Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux’s statement on FASD Prevention and Support Month, visit: http://youtu.be/dRqm0M_ZxgY
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development