"FASD: Let's talk about it," say community groups across the province.
September 9th was Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. Groups across the province hosted community walks, breakfast gatherings, presentations about FASD, and a variety of other events. Their mission was to increase understanding around this disability and to help prevent it.
During the nine months of pregnancy, the unborn baby (fetus) is growing and developing. The mother feeds and nourishes her baby through the placenta and umbilical cord. Everything a mother eats and drinks is shared with her fetus. Alcohol is a dangerous teratogen (poison) that attacks the cells of the developing baby, causing cell death and damage. The result for the baby can be physical and neurological damage. This can lead to behaviour and learning difficulties that will have an impact on the child and family and permanently affect their lives.
FASD is the leading cause of cognitive disabilities in Canada. Recent research suggests that as many as seven in 100 babies have an FASD. It is often considered an 'invisible' disability because of the damage to the brain. For many children affected by alcohol prenatally, what is 'visible' are the resulting behaviour difficulties, learning problems, and the struggles to 'fit in'.
"Everyone wants a healthy baby. Women who plan their pregnancies and choose not to drink for nine months will not have children with FASD. Those who have unplanned pregnancies and quit drinking as soon as they find out they are pregnant, reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm to the fetus," said Noreen Agrey, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute. "There are others who struggle with alcohol and need support. But this is not just a woman’s issue; we all have a responsibility to respect and support a woman’s choice not to drink when she is pregnant."
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, a provincial, non-profit organization has been working since 1980 to raise awareness and educate others about the prevention of disabling conditions in children.