Monthly Archives: December 2015

Social agency stresses alcohol-free New Year’s Eve for moms-to-be

1297606737472_ORIGINALSocial agency stresses alcohol-free New Year’s Eve for moms-to-be

CLICK TO WATCH: Catholic Social Services is hoping those hosting New Year’s Eve parties will be more supportive of moms-to-be, because fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is not just a women’s issue, it impacts everyone. Su-Ling Goh reports.

EDMONTON — When it comes to New Year’s Eve, who doesn’t like a glass of bubbly? While it’s a refreshing way to ring in the new year, an Edmonton social agency has a warning for pregnant women.

Catholic Social Services is asking those hosting New Year’s Eve parties to be mindful of moms-to-be by providing non-alcoholic options for them to drink.

“All alcohol, at any time in a pregnancy, poses risks,” said Lisa Rogozinsky, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder program supervisor with CSS. “Everybody within our communities can take some responsibility in the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”

According to the National Organization on FASD, about 50 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned. Rogozinsky says often times women who don’t know they are pregnant will continue social drinking.

Alcohol, unlike some drugs, easily crosses through the placenta and into a baby’s blood. FASD can cause permanent disabilities.

“What we see from children, youth and adults who have FASD, they have difficulty with their attention, their language, decision-making, judgement, their reasoning,” Rogozinsky said. “These areas of difficulty then impact every area of their life.”

Simon Yau’s adopted son, Desmond, was diagnosed with FASD a year ago. He has developmental delays, and trouble controlling his emotions and impulses.

“Physically, he’s not like other six-year-olds. He’s much more like a much younger child, like a three-year-old perhaps,” Yau said. “He can’t do a lot of the things that other kids his age can do.

“He wouldn’t think twice about just running across the street if you open the front door.”

Rogozinsky says FASD isn’t just a women’s issue and that everyone can play a role in prevention. She suggests talking to pregnant women about the risks of alcohol and planning social events that don’t involve alcohol.

The following mocktail recipes were provided by Catholic Social Services.

Mocktail recipes for New Year’s Eve and beyond.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News.

© Shaw Media, 2015

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Thanks to MOFAS for putting these recipes together for mom’s to be!

Remember 049- zero alcohol for nine months of pregnancy. There is no safe amount of alcohol one can drink during pregnancy, the safest thing for you and your baby is to not drink any alcohol.

Apple Cider

Homemade Sparkling Cider 

Serves 20


  • 1 Liter of sparkling water per
  • 1 can frozen apple juice/apple cider from concentrate
  • Apple slices for pretty-ness (optional)


Mix together and serve chilled or over ice in fun cups.

Non-alcoholic sangria

Non-alcoholic Sangria

Serves 8


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 black tea bags (or 2 teaspoons loose-leaf tea in an infuser; decaf tea is fine)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 medium orange, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 medium lemon, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 medium lime, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 medium apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 cups carbonated water


Pour the boiling water over tea bags and cinnamon sticks and steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags and stir in sugar to dissolve.

In a large jar or pitcher, combine tea, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate juice, orange juice, orange, lemon, lime, and apple. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.

Just before serving, stir in carbonated water. Serve in glasses over ice.

Non-alcoholic Pomegranet Frost

Pomegranate Frost

Serves 6


  • Ice cubes as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 bottle (24 fl. oz.) sparkling water
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, finely shredded


Fill a pitcher half full with ice. Add the pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, lemon juice, lime juice, 1 1/2 cups of the sparkling water and the mint and stir until well mixed.

Fill 6 tall glasses with ice. Pour the mixture into the glasses and serve immediately.

Non-alcoholic Cranberry Cinnamon Punch

Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch

Serves 25


  • 2 Qt. 100% Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
  • 3 Qt. Water
  • 20 Whole Clove
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 15 oz. Cinnamon Imperial Candies


  1. Heat all ingredients in a VERY large stockpot over medium heat until heated through. Stir frequently. *The Imperial candies will want to stick to the bottom of the pan while the mixture heats, but just a use a wooden spoon to keep them scraped off and they will eventually melt.



Analysis: Fetal alcohol syndrome a complex problem

Pregnant Pause Raises Awareness About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders -- Nearly 30% of Expectant Mothers Still Drink Alcohol While Pregnant -- Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol Can Permanently Damage the Baby's Brain

Participants in a pregnant flash mob repeatedly cross Yonge and Dundas Streets as part of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day in Toronto on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. FASDay, started in Toronto 15 years ago, is celebrated in 42 countries around the world. FASD affects one in one hundred Canadians. The Canadian Press Images PHOTO/FASworld Canada

Fetal alcohol syndrome a complex problem:

Shame-and-blame approach won’t work

Brian Giesbrecht has raised interesting observations and suggested some solutions to the issue of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (Inquiry needed into fetal alcohol syndrome, Dec. 19). His article is important in that it again brings up the argument FASD is a disability and the fact that we have not been successful in preventing its occurrence.

To read Brain Giesbrecht’s article, click here

Recent data in Europe and the U.S. suggest the prevalence is higher than what we estimate in Canada as being one per cent of the population; in fact, the prevalence may be several times higher, approaching four to five per cent. We know certain genetic variants increase risk and make some unborn children more vulnerable to the prenatal effects of alcohol.

Giesbrecht’s assertion that researchers have avoided studying the role of genetics in FASD is contrary to the reality that, in fact, in Canada and Manitoba, researchers have indeed been studying the genetic and epigenetic changes that may be associated with an added risk for FASD (epigenetic changes refer, in part, to life circumstances that can affect the way genes are expressed). For some time now, research has demonstrated that maternal stress, poor nutrition and negative experiences in early life are contributing factors to adverse outcomes in FASD. Fetal alcohol syndrome is not a race-based disorder that affects only indigenous people.
Prenatal alcohol use affects thousands of children in Europe, Africa and in all countries in which FASD prevalence studies have been undertaken.

What is objectionable is the unfair and misplaced blame Giesbrecht attributes to the mothers of these children. Solutions that involve aggressive tactics and measures such as detaining pregnant mothers who drink do not work and further alienate women from seeking medical and other professional help.

These measures only add to the stigma that affects these women. Women do not drink to harm their unborn children. They often come from and live in chaotic situations with a history of neglect and abuse in their own upbringing. They are often part of unhealthy relationships. They frequently suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and have addiction issues. Some drink as a form of self-treatment for depression or low self-esteem or they drink without realizing they are pregnant.

None of this deserves our scorn. A shame-and-blame approach makes matters worse. Availability of treatment programs is very limited and does not meet the huge need.

It is true there is an over-representation of First Nations children in FASD clinics in Manitoba, but this is, in large part, due to a bias in referral patterns. We are more likely to see the children referred by Child and Family Services agencies than at the request of birth parents. A high percentage of children in care in Manitoba are First Nations. There are very few Caucasian children referred to the diagnostic clinic. This is because those agencies are proactive in referring kids in care they believe are affected with FASD, which may not be top of mind for some physicians examining non-aboriginal children with similar symptoms. They may come up with a less inflammatory diagnosis, such as one connected to attention-deficit or learning disorders.

We need to recognize that several generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children have suffered because of colonization, residential-school trauma and discrimination. This has resulted in generations of poverty, mental-health issues and addiction disorders. These realities are a major reason that we see generations of affected children among our First Nations people.

We believe Giesbrecht has missed the larger issue of the responsibility of the alcohol industry in the matter of FASD. A greater proportion of profits from sales of alcoholic beverages would go a long way in improving funding for prevention and treatment research in FASD. The industry promotes its products and increasingly directs its advertising at youth and women. We have witnessed rising rates of binge-drinking among younger women and teenagers. It is hard to control or regulate this targeted advertising because of the availability of the Internet and social media.

Our governments should consider removing themselves from marketing and promoting the sale of alcohol. This is clearly a conflict of interest. The Manitoba government has supported FASD research, diagnosis and treatment and should be lauded. To date, the effort has not stemmed the tide of affected children in Manitoba.

Whatever efforts we have taken to prevent FASD, we have clearly failed. Giesbrecht may be right that we need an inquiry, which may help us examine the results of our past efforts and see what we need to do differently. We hope if this happens, an inquiry would include the question of discrimination and racism, and the liquor industry’s and government’s role and responsibility.

Ab Chudley is a pediatrician and medical geneticist with a long-standing clinical and research interest in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Sally Longstaffe is a pediatrician and developmental specialist with years of clinical experience and research in FASD. The views expressed are their own and do not reflect the views or position of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority or the University of Manitoba


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2015 A7

Party season can be challenging for those struggling with addiction

Party season can be challenging for those struggling with addiction

Lots of parties, lots of alcohol, lots of stress for some around Christmas

CBC News Posted: Dec 21, 2015 7:47 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 21, 2015 11:53 AM ET

Party hosts should have ample non-alcoholic beverages.

As the song says, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

But for people dealing with addictions, it can also be the most challenging.

Andrew Galloway knows that well. He’s been through his own struggles with alcohol and with cocaine. He’s been in recovery 14 years and now works as certified counsellor national director at the Edgewood Health Network in Toronto.

There are more parties, which means more drinking. “The average person tends to drink a lot more,” said Galloway. “It’s all around us more.”

But there are ways to make a person who doesn’t drink feel more comfortable at a party, said Galloway. Here’s a list of some small gestures to make your holiday party more inclusive:

  • The more sobriety, the more comfortable: There’s safety in numbers. So invite your sober friend to invite another a sober friend. And make it easy to not drink at your party by having a good supply and variety of non-alcoholic drinks on hand.
  • Be mindful of space: Unsurprisingly, a person who doesn’t drink may not want to be around drinks or people who drink a lot. So don’t sit a sober friend beside the uncle who loves to pound the bottle, said Galloway. And don’t offer a wine glass straight away. “Don’t make them have them to say no,” said Galloway. 
  • Don’t take it personally: Don’t be offended if your sober guest leaves your party. In fact, don’t feel offended if he or she doesn’t even show up. It’s not a big deal to you, said Galloway, but it may be to him or her.  
  • Christmas dinner is not the time: Alcoholism is an elephant in the room at the best of times. During the holidays, especially boozy occasions, that elephant is even bigger. “You may want to have a discussion but Christmas dinner may not be the best time for it,” said Galloway. If there is a person in recovery, or on the verge of recovery, let that person bring up the topic if they need to.
  • Consider going dry: And if someone is struggling to get to the point where they go to recover, don’t serve alcohol at all. Even if the person says it’s fine.

Family stress can be a trigger

Some of the alcohol consumption around the holidays is due to the number of parties, but some of it can be due to stress. That’s especially at reunions with family members. 

“When we get around family, old feelings come up,” said the counselor. “We have to develop coping skills.”

When Galloway feels a trigger at the holidays, he takes five minutes to meditate. “I ask myself what’s going on, and why am I having this reaction,” he said. 

He remembers his days in recovery when his mother would visit him. She would ask something like, “how are you?”, but he would hear “are you high?”, something harkening back to his youth. 

“And I was 32 yrs old!” he said. “it’s how all how we perceive things. When we go into reaction mode, we get defensive, then they get defensive. Then it escalates.”

When things used to escalate, Galloway would grab a bottle of something.  

One Christmas, he set out to buy his father a golf club for Christmas. He ended up drinking, and by the time Christmas morning came, he had not even shopped for the present. He ended up drawing a picture of it and putting the sketch under the tree instead.

“The stress of buying presents is tough,” said Galloway. He does all his Christmas shopping in October now, he added.

Regardless of how you prepare, though, the holiday season can be difficult for people who struggle with addiction. 

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What’s the Buzz?: Protecting babies from alcohol is everyone’s business

What’s the Buzz?: Protecting babies from alcohol is everyone’s business

  • Carol J. O’Hara and Sunny Burford For The Sentinel


Alcohol is often a part of many holiday celebrations; but alcohol and pregnancy do not mix well together.

If you know someone who is pregnant or breast feeding, support them in abstaining from alcohol. Have non-alcoholic beverages available for guests. Women of child-bearing age should not drink alcohol if they are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or having unprotected sex.

Babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy can develop a “hidden disability” because it is often never recognized. There is no cure, and it lasts a lifetime. The disability is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

FASD is an umbrella term for a group of conditions and can lead to a range of birth defects, which may be physical, intellectual or both. Alcohol can produce serious neurobehavioral effects in the child, even more than using crack or heroin.

FASD is 100 percent preventable. It is important for pregnant women to follow this rule: Nine Months No Alcohol!

Unfortunately, not everyone follows the Nine Months, No Alcohol Rule. In the United States alone, one in 500 babies is born each year with identified FASD. The true number may even be closer to one in five because most children are never diagnosed, or are misdiagnosed. They are often considered to fall on the Autism Spectrum, suffer with Attention Deficit Disorder, bipolar disorder or even just be labeled as lazy and unmotivated.

Alcohol consumed during pregnancy enters the baby’s blood system through the placenta. The baby does not have a fully developed liver, is a lot smaller than their mother and cannot process alcohol well.

 Symptoms vary considerably from one child to the next. Alcohol can cause brain damage, intellectual disabilities, abnormalities to the central nervous system, face, liver, kidney, heart, joints and limbs, as well as skeletal defects, asthma, vision problems, hearing problems, acting out behaviors and difficulties with socialization and adapting to society.

Some persons with FASD do not mature emotionally beyond the ages of 6 or 7. Many teenagers with this disability are so depressed with their inability to fit into society, that they often attempt and commit suicide. Some end up in the criminal justice system.

Do you think that this condition does not apply to you? FASD impacts all of us. Only 10 percent of persons with FASD are able to live independent lives as adults. Over the lifetime of each person with FASD, taxpayers will spend close to $3 million in supportive services.

When celebrating the holidays this year, remember the Nine Months No Alcohol Rule!

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Help for the Holidays: Surviving Stress During Pregnancy

Help for the Holidays: Surviving Stress During Pregnancy

The Baby Blog

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By Neely Cessac, Teratogen Information Specialist, MotherToBaby

The holidays are full of family, fun, and enjoyment – and the season is wonderful EVERY, SINGLE, DAY, right?! WRONG. Every year many pregnant women (as well as the general public) become so stressed and worried around this time. And rightly so…not only do pregnant moms have regular holiday stress, but they’ll soon become moms! M-O-M-S! Holy cow. An overwhelming concept, to say the least, especially with everyone telling you what you can (or should) do and what you can’t (or shouldn’t) do during pregnancy. As a birth defects information specialist, I’m starting to get a ton of questions surrounding stress from moms-to-be. I can relate…and I’m not even pregnant yet!

I always want everything to be perfect, from clean floors and ceiling fans, to wonderfully wrapped presents and delicious food. Luckily my mom is an expert at all of those things, so I asked my mom how she survived the holidays while she was pregnant with me. Between my teratology expertise (the study of exposures that cause birth defects) and her “mom-ology” expertise (the study of being awesome in general, but especially as a mom), we’ve put together a list of some key questions and answers to help you survive the holidays too!

Survival Q #1: How can I avoid becoming too stressed?

  • How you breathe is important! Be sure to take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, and relax.
  • Realize you are not alone. Most pregnant women and women in general are feeling the same way you are. Talk to others; it will help reduce your feelings of stress.
  • Take a nap! Escape and take a quick cat nap when you are really stressed and tired.
  • Light to moderate non-impact exercise is great too. Try walking, swimming or yoga.

Survival Q #2: How can I avoid becoming too fatigued?

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you are too tired to do some things. You cannot (and should not) be super woman during the holidays! Just say “no”.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep! Try to get about eight hours of sleep each night.

Survival Q #3: How can I avoid drinking alcohol?

  • Don’t be tempted to drink alcohol, as alcohol is known to be harmful for baby. Bring your own non-alcoholic beer or wine with you to the party.
  • Want something bubbly to drink on New Year’s Eve? Try a delicious non-alcoholic sparkling juice or cider.
  • Make sure there is no alcohol in the drinks or desserts that your host/hostess is serving at the party. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Survival Q #4: How can I avoid complications from overeating, such as gas and constipation?

  • Eat more often, but eat smaller portions. With a baby on board, you do not have as much room in your tummy as you used to!
  • Drink lots of fluids and eat foods high in fiber, such as apples and broccoli.

Pediatrics / Children’s Health Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs Anxiety / Stress Depression Family focus for children of substance abusing parents

Family focus for children of substance abusing parents

Interventions for children of substance abusing parents (COSAPs) that are family-focused can be effective in repairing the child-parent relationship and help overcome the stigma associated with addiction. The study, published in the open access journal Systematic Reviews, gives further understanding into why these types of programs work.

Alcohol5It is estimated that 7% of adults in the US and 11% of adults in the UK have an alcohol disorder. The prevalence of substance abuse, which includes drugs and alcohol, is estimated to be 11%, in Canada. It is also thought that one in four children in the US are exposed to alcohol abuse in their family. It has been found that COSAPs are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, behavioral problems and lower academic achievement.

Family-based COSAP programs have been developed with the aim of strengthening family functioning and reducing negative childhood outcomes by involving multiple family members. It has been found that these family-based interventions can be more effective than working with the children or parents alone.

Researchers from Ryerson University, Canada, conducted a realist systematic review to understand how and why these outcomes are achieved in two types of family-based approaches. A realist review looks at the evidence to examine how and why a social intervention is effective and asks in what context is the intervention effective.

Lead researcher, Amelia Usher, said: “Interventions for COSAPs are typically developed from two different perspectives: the public health prevention field and the more grassroots family addiction field. There were a limited number of published studies on this topic; we had to look to community reports and other grey literature to supplement our research. Given that most COSAP programs are delivered in the community, this speaks to limited capacity for community organizations in evaluating their programs.”

The systematic review identified 32 documents from seven COSAP programs that took place in the US, UK, Spain and Canada. Four themes were found to prevail in the programs that were evaluated as being successful: opportunities for positive parent-child interactions; supportive peer relationships among child participants and among parents; knowledge and education about the impact of addiction and substance abuse; and engaging hard to reach families using strategies that are responsive to socioeconomic status.

Amelia Usher said: “Tackling the shame and stigma associated with addiction is fundamental, particularly for children. Findings suggest that providing children with an age-appropriate support system of peers who share their experience of living with addiction can be immensely helpful. Similarly, this is also true for parents who struggle with raising children while in recovery.

“Our findings suggest that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to effective intervention. Context matters greatly and services should be tailored to the needs and preferences of the community, for example, paying attention to social determinants of health and meeting basic needs. If organizations provide families with a meal, transportation, or other instrumental supports, this may have a significant impact on program engagement.”

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