Monthly Archives: April 2018

Dialogue to Action on Discussing Alcohol with Women Project


This project is designed to:

  • Engage a wide range of health and social service professionals in improving practices with respect to discussing alcohol with women and their support networks, in the preconception period and when pregnant
  • Support national action on this aspect of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevention in a manner that is transdisciplinary, participatory, dialogic and forward thinking

The key activities to be undertaken are:

  • Summarizing existing evidence on brief alcohol interventions with women and girls, synchronized with approaches with their partners and support networks
  • Mapping existing approaches in Canada – Face-to-face sessions will be held in 12 provinces and territories to identify: approaches being offered to reach and engage women and their partners in the preconception period and during pregnancy; potential improvements in approaches for discussing alcohol; potential improvements in perinatal data collection and relevant child welfare policy; and ideas for action by different professionals and organizations to advance the work currently underway
  • Promoting promising practice with key partners through a webinar series, meetings with national partners, and virtual working groups on addressing key barriers to improvement in the health system response

Dialogue to Action Project Resources

Resource List for Project Regional Meetings

Women and Alcohol English version French version

Women and Tobacco English version French version

Women and Prescription Opioids English version French version

Women and Cannabis English version French version

Indigenous Approaches to FASD Prevention: Brief Interventions with Girls and Women

Webinar—The Role of Anti-violence Workers in Providing Brief Support on Substance Use
Recording  View Slides

CNN: How dad’s pre-conception health can affect the baby, too

preconception-health-slide-twof57ed584491d6e5b9e79ff0000427a78By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

Many moms-to-be know that their health even before they become pregnant — known as pre-conception health — can affect the health of their babies.

Now, research is continuing to show that the pre-conception health of fathers also can influence a pregnancy and the baby.

Three papers published Monday in the journal The Lancet detail how the health of both women and men, before they even conceive a child, can have profound impacts on the health of their offspring — such as birth weight and brain development.

“This is a really important series, and it is important because it helps further re-establish the importance of pre-conception care as a legitimate direction for improving birth outcomes and improving health in children, both at the time of birth but also over their life course,” said Milton Kotelchuck, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in the new papers.

“Really, almost all of the important epigenetics, all the important embryologic development, takes place in the first few weeks of the pregnancy. That’s when lots of the really key things are happening before people even know they’re pregnant,” he said. “Your brain development, your entire spine, all the nerves are developed in the first couple of weeks.”

Maternal binge drinking linked to mood problems and alcohol abuse in offspring



A new study is the first to show that binge drinking by expectant mothers can impair the mental health of their offspring. Researchers report that rat mothers who drank in a binge-like manner during pregnancy and lactation were more prone to depressive behaviours — and so were their offspring. Moreover, alcohol-triggered heritable changes in the mother made their offspring more vulnerable to mood disturbances and alcohol abuse as adolescents.

It is commonly assumed that alcohol is easily discontinued during pregnancy, as recommended by physicians. “But this is not always the case for habitual drinkers,” says Dr. Carla Cannizzaro, the lead author of the study. “Pregnant women might also think intermittent social drinking is less harmful than daily drinking.”

To examine the consequences of maternal drinking — either continuously or intermittently — Cannizzaro and co-workers at the Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy, used a rat model. In the study, pregnant and lactating female rats were given water that contained alcohol in a manner that mimicked habitual and binge drinking in women. At the end of the study period, the rat mothers and their offspring underwent a battery of tests to assess mood and behavior.

Click to read full report:

PCAP – Newsletter April 2018

About the Alberta PCAP Council


The Alberta Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) Council evolved from the Targeted & Indicated Prevention Training Sub-Committee reporting to the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – Cross-Ministry Committee (FASD-CMC).  Alberta PCAP programs were in need of program-specific supports, and funders such as FASD‑CMC were in need of policy information.

The Parent-Child Assistance Program started as a federally funded research demonstration project developed by Dr Therese Grant at the University of Washington.  The primary goal of PCAP is to prevent future births of alcohol and drug-exposed children. We do this by addressing the needs of mothers and getting them stabilized in a whole host of ways.

Vision Statement

We envision a province where women with substance use issues are well supported in their communities to have healthy pregnancies and healthy families.

Mission Statement

The Alberta PCAP Council will support programs to operate throughout the province in an educated, culturally safe, thoughtful, and efficient manner that is consistent with the Alberta PCAP model.


The PCAP model has been chosen in Alberta to provide services for targeted and indicated prevention of FASD. This Level 3/4 Prevention offers a specialized and holistic support of pregnant women with alcohol and other health/social problems. The purpose of the Council is to assist programs to adhere to this research-based, validated model to promote program fidelity and quality assurance.

For more information about the Council please visit 

Check out their April 2018 newsletter! Just click to download!

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Resource: Women and Cannabis

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This resource was developed through the support of the Education and Training Council, Alberta FASD Cross Ministry Committee and reviewed by experts from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the Canada FASD Research Network. It was updated September 2017 with new research and uses the scientific name, cannabis, rather than the common name, marijuana.

View English PDF

View French PDF 

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This is a resource for service providers and program planners. The info sheet describes what we know so far about sex- and gender-based factors related to cannabis use.

It is one of several resources developed as part of the Trauma/Gender/Substance Use (TGS) project made possible by funding from Health Canada. The views in this resource do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada. Revised February 2018.

View English PDF

View French PDF

Teaching Tuesday: Dr. Bruce Perry, Sensitization and Tolerance

Sensitization and Tolerance: An introduction to the crucial role that patterns of stress response system activation play in pathology and healing.

Alcohol Consumption Directly Linked to Breast Cancer in Woman, Age and Quantity Play Major Factors


According to a report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the group lists breast cancer as one of the primary types of cancer directly linked to alcohol consumption. Most women have one in eight chances of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. Taking every preventive measure possible is one way to lower your risk, and a good place to start is looking at your booze intake. While at what age a woman starts drinking is just one factor that is associated with breast cancer, how she drinks is also another primary factor.

Any potentially cancerous cells are growing at a fast pace and multiplying, making the young adult years important time for risk reduction. “For a woman’s teenage years to her first pregnancy, her breast cells undergo rapid profiferation,” says Heidi Memmel, MD, a breast surgeon. “Breast cancer risk accumulates across a woman’s lifespan, but the most rapid accumulation occurs around the time a woman has her first period to her first pregnancy.” After pregnancy, a woman’s breast tissue undergoes biologic changes that make the cells more cancer-resistant. This helps explain why women who have children later in life or do not have children at all are at higher risk, says Dr. Memmel.

Dr. Memmel further says there is a significant increase in breast cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption before age 30, especially if the woman began drinking at an early age. While the link between alcohol and breast cancer isn’t completely clear, she says, the prevailing theory is that alcohol affects circulating estrogen and estrogen receptors in the breast tissue. “The products of alcohol metabolism in the body are also thought to potentially play a role in breast tumour cell growth,” says Dr. Memmel. “Alcohol is causally related to the risk of breast cancer, with a seven to 10% increased risk for each drink of alcohol consumed daily,” says Dr. Liu, a researcher and assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The age at which a woman begins drinking is only one part of the equation. How she drinks also factors into risk. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is when women have four or more drinks in two hours is problematic. “Women who report seven drinks on the weekend, but no alcoholic drinks during the week have a higher risk than women who have one drink per night”, explains Dr. Memmel “Because much youth alcohol consumption is in the form of binge drinking, many young women are unknowingly putting themselves at higher risk of developing breast cancer.” The CDC reports that one in six adults binge drinks about four times a month.

By Sania Dhirwani

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