Alcohol & Pregnancy: Help Spread the Facts!
Many Albertans know someone who has a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and most are aware of this preventable birth defect. FASD is a lifelong disability resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol that has no cure. People with an FASD can have a combination of unique physical, developmental, learning and behaviour problems and concerns.
Yet 9% of Alberta women reported drinking during their last pregnancy. Some may be surprised the percentage is markedly higher (41%) for women in the highest income group. Among Alberta women 18 to 44 years of age, 80% reported drinking within the past 12 months. Given that 50% of pregnancies are reported to be unplanned, a significant number of unborn babies are at a high risk of prenatal exposure to alcohol
No wonder why women, their partners, family and friends are confused about alcohol use and pregnancy, there are myths and misinformation everywhere! From authors, health care providers to well intentioned friends, conflicting and inaccurate information is being spread to women.
What we do know is that no woman consumes alcohol wanting to cause harm to her baby. A woman may not know she is pregnant, may not be aware of the effects on fetal development. Life circumstances past and present, such as domestic violence, poverty, mental health problems and stress can result in alcohol use as a coping strategy. And all women, all ages and all socio-economic backgrounds may drink alcohol during pregnancy because it is their social norm and loved ones around them drink on a regular basis.
So what can we do? Help spread the facts by having non-judgemental prevention conversations with family, friends, colleagues and the community at large about alcohol use and pregnancy.
· Drinking can be harmful at any point during pregnancy and can result in lifelong disabilities.
· Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. If you drink alcohol and are sexually active, make sure you use contraception.
· Friends, partners and family members can support a woman by asking how they can help her to make healthy choices for healthy babies.
· Some women need support, care and treatment to help them stop drinking during pregnancy.
For more information on the FASD Prevention Conversation or supports and services available for persons with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder please visit: www.edmontonfetalalcoholnetwork.org