Working to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

On Thursday, September 12 there will be an Information session at Bellies to Babies group in Fernie.

On September 9, Axis Family Resources’ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Key Worker and Parent Support Program joins with programs all over the East Kootenay region and around the globe in celebrating International FASD Day.

“On the ninth minute of the ninth hours of the ninth month, bells will ring to remind the community that women should not drink during the nine months of pregnancy,” says Amanda Casey, FASD Key Worker.

In the East Kootenay, the Key Worker/Parent Support Program is hosting information sessions and events in several communities during the week of September 9.

On Thursday, September 12 there will be an Information session at Bellies to Babies group in Fernie.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, is an umbrella term that describes the wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities that occur in the fetus from consuming alcohol while pregnant.  FASD is the leading cause of developmental and cognitive disabilities among children in North America.

“People born with FASD need a lot of help and support throughout their entire lifespan, and yet it’s an issue no one wants to talk about,” says Amanda Casey, FASD Key Worker and Parent Support Facilitator for the East Kootenay.

Every day approximately 1,000 babies are born in Canada. Approximately nine of those babies will be diagnosed with FASD. About half of the 1,000 babies were planned pregnancies, and about 30 to 40 per cent of women of childbearing age consume alcohol.

FASD is non-discriminatory; it knows no race, gender, or social status. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to consume while pregnant. However it’s important for everyone to remember that about half of pregnancies are unplanned, and often aren’t discovered until two to three months gestation. “The fact is that a lot of people simply don’t know they are pregnant until two to three months into the pregnancy, sometimes even longer. There are TV shows about it, it happens!  A conscious choice isn’t being made to disable their child. Stigmatizing and shutting these people out is not helping matters in the slightest,” says Amanda.

While not curable, FASD is preventable. The FASD Key Worker/Parent Support team urges all community members to support women in not drinking during pregnancy and to join in celebrating FASD Awareness Day. For information on how you can help raise awareness in your community or how you can join in celebrating with us, please contact Amanda Casey and Val Markin at 250-489-4074, extension 227.

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