CanFASD: Sober Saturdayz

Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society

Sober Saturdayz

CBC news recently covered the story of an Edmonton woman who is finding creative ways to promote healthy living and alcohol-free social opportunities.

Kaitie Degen is familiar with the negative effects of alcohol use, having grown up in a family impacted by substance use issues. After taking steps towards reducing drinking in her own life, she founded Sober Saturdayz, which is an organization that hosts alcohol-free parties across the city to make it easier for people to have fun “without the hangover.”

Although Sober Saturdayz is not directly tied to FASD, the initiative sends an incredibly valuable message: People can enjoy themselves and stay socially connected without feeling pressured to drink.

This message is especially important to hear in a culture where rates of binge drinking are on the rise, and more than half of pregnancies are unplanned. In the world of FASD, Sober Saturdayz represents a real-life example…

View original post 163 more words

Medical News Today: What to do if you lose a combination pill

It can be easy to lose a pill in a handbag or down the drain. If this happens, the best course of action depends on the type of pill.

In this article, we discuss what a person should do if they lose a combination or progestin-only birth control pill. We also explore how missing a pill can affect pregnancy rates and medical conditions.

What to do if you lose a combination pill

Woman reading leaflet after losing a birth control pill

If a person loses a combination pill, they should take the next active pill and request a replacement pack.


Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin.

Combination pills come in 21- or 28-day packs, which have slightly different instructions:

  • People need to take every pill in a 21-day pack to prevent pregnancy. After finishing these pills, they take no pills for 7 days, then start a new pack.
  • People also need to take every pill in a 28-day pack, but the final seven pills will contain no medication. These are placebo pills.

If a person loses a pill, they should call their doctor and ask for a replacement pack as soon as possible. In the meantime, the doctor may offer the following advice:

  • If you lose an active pill, take the next active pill in the pack as soon as possible.
  • If you lose a placebo pill, it is fine to skip the dose, as these pills do not contain any hormones.

If a person loses a pill and fewer than 48 hours have passed since they took their last pill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:

  • taking the skipped dose as soon as possible
  • continuing to take a pill at the regular time of day, even if it involves taking two pills in 1 day
  • considering using emergency contraception if pills were also lost or skipped in the last week of the previous cycle or earlier in the current cycle

Retrieved from

Science Daily: Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities have almost double the rate of repeat pregnancy

sd-logoWomen with intellectual and developmental disabilities have nearly double the rate of having another baby within a year of delivering compared to women without such disabilities, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Rapid repeat pregnancy within one year of a previous live birth is associated with smaller babies, preterm birth, neonatal death and other adverse effects. It also indicates a lack of access to reproductive health care, such as pregnancy planning and contraception.

About one in 100 adults have an intellectual or developmental disability, such as autism-spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and other nonspecific conditions that cause intellectual and developmental limitations.

Researchers analyzed data on 2855 women with intellectual and developmental disabilities compared with 923 367 women without such disabilities who had a live birth between 2002 and 2013. They found that 7.6% of women with these disabilities had another baby within a year, compared to 3.9% of women without these disabilities.

“Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely than those without such disabilities to be young and disadvantaged in each marker of social, health, and health care disparities. They experience high rates of poverty and chronic physical and mental illness, and have poor access to primary care,” says Hilary Brown, an adjunct scientist at Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and lead author of the study.

Rapid repeat pregnancies in women with intellectual and developmental disabilities ended in induced abortion (49%), live birth (33%) and pregnancy loss (18%) compared with induced abortion (59%), pregnancy loss (22%) and live birth (19%) in women without these disabilities.

“This study shows that current efforts to promote reproductive health might not be reaching women with intellectual and developmental disabilities and that there is a lot more we can do to educate and support these women in relation to pregnancy planning and contraception,” adds Brown.

The study was conducted by researchers from University of Toronto; Women’s College Research Institute; ICES; St. Michael’s Hospital and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario.

It was funded by the Province of Ontario through its research grants program.

Journal Reference:

  1. Hilary K. Brown, Joel G. Ray, Ning Liu, Yona Lunsky, Simone N. Vigod. Rapid repeat pregnancy among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities: a population-based cohort study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2018; 190 (32): E949 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.170932

Retrieved from

Research: Maternal hair testing to disclose self-misreporting in drinking and smoking behavior during pregnancy



Drinking and smoking behavior were assessed during pregnancy through maternal hair analysis.

Ethyl glucuronide and nicotine were measured in maternal hair as biomarkers.

Gestational drinking was significantly more misreported than tobacco smoking.

Maternal hair analysis revealed an alarming misreported prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy.


This study aimed to objectively verify smoking and drinking behavior during pregnancy and to disclose self-misreporting through maternal hair analysis. A total of 153 women attending a university hospital in Barcelona (Spain) were selected and interviewed after delivery, on their smoking and drinking habits during pregnancy.

A 9-cm hair strand was collected and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry for the presence of nicotine (NIC) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) as biomarkers of tobacco andalcohol consumption, respectively. Concentrations of EtG <7 pg/mg hair and ≥30 pg/mg hair in the 0–3-cm hair segment have been used to assess, respectively, total abstinence and chronic excessive consumption in the previous 3 months, with repetitive moderate drinking lying in the interval 7–30 pg EtG per mg hair. Hair NIC less than 1 ng/mg hair indicates non-exposure to tobacco smoke while hair NIC indicates daily active smoking.

In the interview, 28.1% of women declared to have smoked occasionally during gestation, while only 2.6% stated to have consumed alcohol on more than one occasion during pregnancy. Hair testing of smoking biomarkers disclosed that 7.2% of women remained active smokers during the whole pregnancy (hair NIC: 3.21–56.98 ng/mg hair), 16.3% were passive non-smokers or occasional smokers (hair NIC: 1.04–2.99 ng/mg hair), while 76.5% were not exposed to any cigarette smoke (hair NIC < limit of quantification – 0.91 ng/mg hair).

Conversely, alcohol hair biomarkers showed that only 35.3% of women were totally abstinent during gestation (hair EtG: 3.89–6.73 pg/mg hair), while 62.7% drank a non-negligible amount of alcohol during pregnancy (hair EtG: 7.06–26.57 pg/mg hair), and 2% were chronic excessive drinkers (hair EtG: 35.33–47.52 pg/mg hair). Maternal hair analysis has shown to be significantly more sensitive than interviews in revealing an alarming misreported prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy.

These findings stress the need to use objective measures to assess alcohol exposure and to consider the inclusion of targeted actions to reduce alcohol consumption in maternal-child health policies.

Retrieved from

    Have you read: A Handbook For Beautiful People

    Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 4.58.09 PM

    When twenty-two-year-old Marla finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she wishes for a family, but faces precariousness: an uncertain future with her talented, exacting boyfriend, Liam; constant danger from her roommate, Dani, a sometime prostitute and entrenched drug addict; and the unannounced but overwhelming needs of her younger brother, Gavin, whom she has brought home for the first time from deaf school. Forcing her hand is Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome, which sets her apart but also carries her through.

    When Marla loses her job and breaks her arm in a car accident, Liam asks her to marry him. It’s what she’s been waiting for: a chance to leave Dani, but Dani doesn’t take no for an answer. Marla stays strong when her mother shows up drunk, creates her own terms when Dani publicly shames her, and then falls apart when Gavin attempts suicide. It rains, and then pours, and when the Bow River finally overflows, flooding Marla’s entire neighbourhood, she is ready to admit that she wants more for her child than she can possibly give right now. Marla’s courage to ask for help and keep her mind open transforms everyone around her, cementing her relationships and proving to those who had doubted her that having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder does not make a person any less noble, wise or caring.

    About the author:

    Jennifer Spruit grew up in Lloydminster, AB/SK, alongside pump jacks, farm machinery, and its endless, sparkling winter sky. Her affair with writing began with a Grade One story about a tractor, but she has since become engaged in writing about people. She studied Creative Writing at UBC and now lives in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island, where she enjoys playing folk and bluegrass, teaching kids, and rowing a blue canoe. Her work has appeared in Arc, The Antigonish Review, Prairie Fire Magazine, and SubTerrain Magazine, among others. A Handbook for Beautiful People is her debut novel. She is currently at work on a second novel.


    “…there is a lot going on in A Handbook for Beautiful People, much of it very good. Spruit’s chapter titles (“Ravioli” “Eggplant” “Honeydew”) allude to the growing fetus in a creative way. Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome manifests itself in myriad behaviours and decisions, something the condition is said to do. It makes her both unpredictable and believable, a good combination. Spruit’s use of point-of-view, which shifts fluidly between different characters, is impressive and regularly means we’ll see scenes unfold in different ways for different people, as we do at a Christmas dinner that takes place in a Chinese restaurant. The novel’s techniques are consistently intriguing.”

    “Wonderful, heartfelt, heartbreaking–I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.”
    –Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl

    Click here for purchase and ordering information


    Mental Health for Life


    Mental health is key to our well-being. We can’t be truly healthy without it. It involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with the world around us. Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community. It may be more helpful to think of good mental health as thriving. Good mental health isn’t about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ life. It’s about living well and feeling capable despite challenges. Mental well-being is bigger than the presence or absence of a mental illness. People who live with a mental illness can and do thrive, just as people without a mental illness may experience poor mental health.

    Each of our paths to mental well-being will be unique. We all have our own goals, our own challenges, our own talents, and our own supports. But good mental health is in everyone’s reach. Below, find tips and activities to help you take a look at your own well-being, discover your strengths, and take action.

    Build a healthy self-esteem

    Self-esteem is more than just seeing your good qualities. It is being able to see all your abilities and weaknesses together, accepting them, and doing your best with what you have. Self-esteem means recognizing your unique talents and abilities, and using that confidence to follow your goals and interests without comparing yourself to others.

    Activity: Build confidence

    Take a good look at your good points. What do you do best? Where are your skills and interest areas? How would a friend describe you? Now, look at your weak points. What do you have difficulty doing? What things make you feel frustrated? Now, which list was easier to write? Remember that all of us have our positive and negative sides. We build confidence by developing our weaker areas and regularly reminding ourselves of the things we’re comfortable with and proud of.

    Build positive support networks

    Good relationships take effort, whether it’s relationships with family members, friends, or other important supporters. It takes courage to reach out and time to build trust. But social support is a very important part of mental health. People in our networks can offer many different kinds of support, like emotional support, practical help, and alternate points of view. Support can come from family and friends, neighbours, co-workers or classmates, faith communities, clubs or support groups for specific problems.

    Activity: Make time

    Make time just to be with important people in your life. Make time for simply having fun and enjoying each other’s company, and time for serious conversations.

    Get involved

    Being involved in things that really matter to us provides a great feeling of purpose and satisfaction. You make a difference, no matter how big or small your efforts. Getting involved connects you with others in your community who share similar interests or values and connects you to groups of people you might not normally meet. It can help you learn new skills, build confidence, and see your own experiences in a different way.

    Activity: Volunteer

    Be a volunteer. Read to children at your local library, visit people in a hospital or care facility, serve on a committee or board of your favourite charity, clean up your favourite park or beach, or simply help a neighbour.

    Build resiliency

    Resiliency means coping well with problems, stress, and other difficult situations. Problems and stress are a normal part of life. Situations like accidents or illness, unexpected life changes, and conflict happen to everyone. Resiliency is what helps you look at the situation realistically, take action when you can make changes, let go of things you can’t change, and recognize the helpful supports in your life. Your resiliency toolkit might include skills like problem-solving, assertiveness, balancing obligations and expectations, and developing support networks. While some people learn these skills during treatment for mental health problems, we should really think of them as skills for everyone. You can learn more about these skills online, in books, through community organizations, or through your health care provider.

    Activity: Build your own toolkit

    Set aside time to think about the resiliency tools you already have. This might include skills like structured problem-solving or people who can help you during difficult situations. Remember to include strategies that have worked for you in the past. Keep your list on hand and use it as a reminder when you need help. It’s also a good way to see where you might want to build new skills or supports.

    Recognize your emotions

    Emotional well-being is not about being happy all the time. Feeling sad, angry, and anxious at times is part of being human. Emotional well-being involves expressing our emotions in a way that respects everyone. Bottling up our feelings doesn’t respect our own experiences, just as lashing out because we feel angry may not respect others. Emotional well-being also includes recognizing what influences our emotions, discovering how our emotions affect the way we think or act, taking action when our emotional response isn’t helpful, and learning to accept our emotions—even the difficult ones.

    Activity: Identify and deal with your moods

    Find out what makes you happy, sad, joyful or angry. What calms you down? Learn ways to deal with your moods. Share joyful news with a friend, and find support when you feel sad. Physical exercise can help you deal with your anger or anxiety. Keep a stack of your favourite funny cartoons, stories, or videos for times when you need to laugh. And don’t forget the power of music to lift you up or calm you down.

    Take care of your spiritual well-being

    Spiritual well-being means getting to know ourselves, discovering our values, and learning to be at peace with who we are. It also involves finding and connecting to something bigger than ourselves and living with purpose. Spirituality can give us meaning and solace, help us overcome challenges, and help us build connections with others. This may mean religion for some, but it doesn’t have to—it’s really about how we feel on the inside.

    Activity: Connect with yourself

    Set aside quiet, quality time to be totally alone. Try a breathing exercise: count your breaths from one to four, and then start at one again. Or do something you love to do, like dancing, going to a baseball game, building a bird house, going for a hike, or whatever works for you!

    Do you need more help?

    Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.

    Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.



    New Book, Mothers, Addiction and Recovery: Finding Meaning Through the Journey


    This anthology is a collection of personal accounts, research, treatment approaches and policy commentary exploring women’s experiences of mothering in the context of addiction. Individual chapters focus on a variety of addictions during pregnancy or mothering including misuse of substances, food and smartphones.

    A central theme of the book is the meaning of women’s maternal identity as key to recovery. Part I focusses on women’s lived experiences of mothering through their addiction and recovery. The chapters in part II report findings from studies that have prioritized the perspective of mothers living with addiction. In Part III of this collection, we expand our view of addiction and turn to approaches for supporting mothers of daughters with eating disorders and prevention of smartphone addiction. In part IV, contributors expand on the themes of harm reduction and restorative, healing approaches to the treatment of mothers’ addictions that have echoed throughout the chapters of this book. The anthology concludes with a gendered analysis and critique of addiction programs and policy.

    “Mothers, Addiction and Recovery: Finding Meaning Through the Journey” is a timely and innovative book, which provides a significant exploration of the topic of addiction. The book effectively highlights mothers’ unique experiences of addiction from their own voices, provides a comprehensive overview of current scholarly research and theorization on addiction, and offers a critical discussion of addiction treatment and recovery programs and practices. The authors provide invaluable insight into the various ways that women mother in the context of addiction, the challenges and struggles they encounter, and the strengths and capacities they demonstrate despite the difficulties and stigmatizations that they face. This book should be read by policy makers, academics, service providers, the wider general public, and anyone who seeks to gain a greater understanding of the unique experience of mothering in the context of addiction.”
    —CAROLINE MCDONALD-HARKER, Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta

    Purchase details can be found here

    « Older Entries