Region of Waterloo Public Health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day: An Opportunity to Promote Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
September 9th is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. On this day we remind all women and men that there is no safe time, no safe amount and no safe kind of alcohol consumption in pregnancy.
FASD is the term used to describe a lifelong disability of permanent brain damage and birth defects caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.
• The leading cause of developmental disability among Canadian children
• Estimated to affect 1-2% of Canadians. Experts working in the field feel the number is much higher as most people affected by FASD are never
• Costing Canada 5.3 billion dollars a year
Why Is Prevention Necessary?
Research reports that 40-50% of pregnancies are unplanned, therefore women may be drinking before they know they are pregnant. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that generally 22% of drinkers exceed Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. They also found that the average number of drinks consumed per week increased from 3.3 (1996) to 4.6 (2009) and that this increase was especially prominent in women drinkers aged 18 to 29 years of age, women in their reproductive years. Therefore, prevention efforts are critical in decreasing the risk of FASD.
Studies show that women are more likely to drink in pregnancy if their partner drinks or nags them about drinking. It is important that males understand that there is no safe time, no safe amount and no safe kind of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Therefore, to prevent FASD the greatest impact will occur if we focus on all people in their reproductive years.
Encourage partners of pregnant women to be supportive and ask how they can help to ensure an alcohol-free pregnancy. Click here for additional information and tips for partners of pregnant women: How to Support Your Partner.
What can your workplace do?
• Promote FASD Awareness Day (Sept. 9, 2012) with posters, email blasts, displays and brochures. See http://fasday.com/ for more details.
• Post and promote information on alcohol free pregnancies. Seewww.alcoholfreepregnancy.ca for more details.
• Post and promote Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
• Borrow the Mocktails for Mom display from Region of Waterloo Public Health to demonstrate alternative beverage options (click here for details).
If you would like more information on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, please contact Project Health atprojecthealth@
Be Safe Poster
Mocktails for Mom
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Burgoyne W. Supporting change: Preventing and addressing alcohol use in pregnancy [Internet Handbook]. Toronto (ON): Best Start Resource Centre; 2002. Available from:
Finer L, Zolna M. Unintended pregnancy in the United States: Incidence and disparities. Contraception [Internet]. 2011 Nov;84(5):478-485. Available from:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Ialomiteanu A, Adlaf E, Mann R, Rehm J. Addiction and mental health indicators among Ontario adults 1977-2009. Toronto (ON): Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Can); 2011.
Oliver C, White H, Edwards M. Fetal alcohol syndrome: A hopeful challenge for children, families, and communities. Ottawa (ON): Health Canada; 1998.
Parkes T, Poole N, Salmon A, Greaves L, Urquhart L. Double exposure: A better practices review on alcohol interventions during pregnancy. Vancouver (BC): British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; 2008.
Tough S, Clarke M, Clarren S. Preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, preconception counseling and diagnosis help [Internet]. Toronto (ON): Motherisk; 2005. Available from: http://www.motherisk.org/