Author Archives: edmontonfetalalcoholnetwork

Best Start Resource: Learning to Play and Playing to Learn – What Families Can Do – Booklet

Learning to Play and Playing to Learn is a parent resource and guide for all who care for children and support play-based learning at home, in child care and preschool settings and kindergarten. Particular attention is given to attachment, self-regulation and play. It is based on the research of what, how, and when your child learns. This booklet is filled with:

  • Up-to-date information
  • Helpful tips
  • Checklists
  • Links to other resources

These tools help to support a child’s individual growth and development.

Who is this booklet for?

This booklet is for everyone who cares for children: Parent, Caregivers, Childcare providers, Healthcare providers, Family members, Friends…

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Click here to download the booklet!

CCSA Releases Communications Toolkit for Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines


The toolkit provides an additional way for people to educate themselves, understand the guidelines and share knowledge.

Ottawa, September 11, 2018 — Due to their continued popularity, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has released a communications toolkit to promote Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The toolkit provides the resources to increase awareness and start public discussions about drinking in moderation.

Originally developed in 2011, the primary audience for the Guidelines are adults between the ages of 25 and 65. They currently recommend no more than two drinks a day for women (maximum 10 per week) and three drinks a day for men (maximum 15 per week), with an extra drink allowed on special occasions.

The Guidelines save lives.

If all Canadians who consume alcohol were to follow the proposed guidelines, there would be an estimated 4,600 fewer alcohol-related deaths per year (Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking, p. 9).

“The most important thing to remember is that the Guidelines are not targets to meet or strive for,” explains Bryce Barker, knowledge broker at CCSA. “Rather, they serve as guidance to reduce harms for those who choose to consume alcohol.”

Starting a dialogue.

People are encouraged to share the toolkit with their family, friends, staff, colleagues, clients and others in the community to help get the conversation started about the Guidelines. As Barker says, “Whether as a healthcare professional talking with a patient or friends and family having a conversation, the Guidelines open the channels of honest communication.”

What is in the communications toolkit?

The toolkit contains graphics and posters that highlight important information about drinking in moderation. The materials include:  Drinking tips  Posters  Banner ads and web buttons  Graphics for social media platforms  Facts sheets  Infographic

Why the Guidelines were developed.

A team of independent Canadian and international experts developed Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines on behalf of the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee. The Guidelines are a key component of the National Alcohol Strategy.

They have received the support of provincial and territorial health ministers, as well as many respected Canadian health organizations.

Related stories

Students Cite Having Fun, Peer Pressure and Campus Cultural as Leading Reasons for Heavy Drinking

Substance Use in Canada Costs $38.4 Billion a Year

Time to Kickstart the Conversation on Substance Use in Older Canadians 

Binge Drinking Affects Brains of Men and Women Differently: Study


Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Scientists across the world have time and again emphasised how binge drinking can take a toll on a bevy of your organs, especially brain, however not many studies have studied how they impact brains of different genders.

The effect of gene expression in an area of the brain linked to addiction was found to be remarkably different, by a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics.

Repeated binge drinking was found to significantly alter molecular pathways in the nucleus accumbens — a region of the brain linked to addiction. It was found that in females the genes linked to hormone signalling and immune function are altered, whereas in males genes related to nerve signalling are affected.

For the study, the team analysed gene expression in nucleus accumbens. The study has significant implications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as they underline the need of tailoring effective therapies towards male and female patients. Repeated binge drinking can be a risk factor for the development of alcohol dependence. The research was led by Deborah Finn, Professor at Oregon Health and Science University.

“We examined the effect of repeated binge drinking on the expression of 384 genes previously identified as important in addiction and mood disorders,” Finn said.

Of a total of 106 genes regulated by binge drinking, only 14 were regulated in both males and females, representing common targets to binge drinking, revealed the findings of the study. Interestingly, only 4 of these 14 genes were regulated in the same direction and the top 30 genes regulated by binge drinking in each sex differed markedly.

“We have shown that pharmacologically manipulating a pathway in both sexes that only was affected by binge drinking in males did not decrease binge drinking in females; binge drinking was only decreased in males,” Finn explained.

She noted that a consideration of sex is critical in the development of potential pharmacological therapies for the treatment of alcohol use disorder.

Retrieved from

Sobering Study about Drinking for Two


A baby is born into the world taking that first breath. But soon after, it is discovered the baby is small and not eating well. On his second day of life, he develops seizures and is transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). While trying to determine the cause of his seizures, his mother admits to heavily drinking alcohol while she was pregnant.

This scenario is not uncommon for babies born to mothers who drank heavily during pregnancy. They tend to be premature and need critical care with specialized staff in the NICU. However, most of the lifelong effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are detected as that baby grows up.

“Most infants born to mothers who consumed alcohol during their pregnancies will not be identified during the first few days of life. The adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure may be subtle or overlooked in the newborn period, especially those involving the central nervous system, which may not emerge until a child fails to meet developmental milestones or has difficulty at school,” said Eustratia Hubbard, MD, pediatrician at UC San Diego Health.

FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in a child whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Some of the features include a small head, below average weight and height, difficulty with learning and behavioral problems.

“Unlike many other syndromes we may diagnose in infants and children, FASD is completely preventable by avoiding all alcohol in any amount during the entire pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her developing baby,” said Hubbard. “Any amount of alcohol, even the alcohol in one glass of wine, passes through the placenta from the mother to the growing baby and can have effects on their brain and other organs.”

The CDC reports one in 10 pregnant women in the United States drinks alcohol, defined as at least one drink of any alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days, and one in five pregnant women reports binge drinking.

“A pattern of binge drinking during pregnancy is thought to present the highest risk for FASD,” said Hubbard. “Heavy drinking during pregnancy can also increase the risk of prenatal issues, such as miscarriage, stillbirth and prematurity.”

Among the pregnant women in the CDC report, the highest prevalence of any alcohol use was among those who were:

  • 35 to 44-years-old
  • College graduates
  • Not married

At the first prenatal care visit, health care providers ask mothers about their alcohol intake and counsel them to abstain from alcohol during the pregnancy. However, women may drink alcohol before they realize they are pregnant, during a critical period of fetal organ development.

“Signs warning about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are posted in areas where liquor is sold and labels with the same information are on alcohol containers. Yet, many women are unaware that any amount of alcohol and any type, even beer from the local brewery, can cause harm,” said Hubbard.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found the prevalence of FASD is much higher than previously thought.

wine glasses

The findings show a significant number of children across four regions in the United States were determined to have FASD. More than 6,000 first-graders in the Pacific Southwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountain and Southeast regions of the U.S. were evaluated in the study. Researchers found that 1 to 5 percent of the children were determined to have FASD.

“Our results suggest that the rate of FASD in children in the United States is as high or higher than autism spectrum disorders (ASD),” said Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, co-principal investigator of the study, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-director of the UC San Diego Center for Better Beginnings.

The frequency of FASD in the study ranged from approximately 11 to 50 children per 1,000 per region, with the lowest estimate in one Midwestern region sample, and the highest in one Rocky Mountain region sample. Previous data suggests the estimated frequency in the U.S. is 10 per 1,000 children. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the frequency of ASD at 14.6 per 1,000 8-year-olds.

Of the 222 children diagnosed with FASD in the study, only two had been previously diagnosed, although many parents and guardians were aware of the children’s learning and behavioral challenges.

“Our findings suggest that FASD is a critical health problem that often goes undiagnosed and misdiagnosed,” said Chambers. “Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurological abnormalities in the United States. It can cause a range of developmental, cognitive and behavioral problems, which may be recognized at any time during childhood and can last a lifetime.”

Click here to read full article.

By Michelle Brubaker

In The News: Shame not the solution for preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, says advocate

0umzDCrm_400x400Claire Theobal, EDMONTON — On International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, advocates warn shaming women may be doing more harm than good for at risk mothers and their babies.

“When we focus on FASD as simply being woman drinks alcohol causes FASD, we do a disservice to women as well as to the infants. FASD is a community issue, so awareness really needs to focus on what are the reasons behind a woman’s alcohol consumption while she’s pregnant,” said Lisa Rogozinsky, co-ordinator of the Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network on Sunday.

According to provincial estimates, nearly nine in every thousand babies in Alberta are born with FASD — around 500 every year — meaning there are more than 46,000 Albertans with FASD.

FASD describes a wide range of physical and mental disabilities caused when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy, including physical birth defects, developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory problems, as well as difficulties in communicating their feelings and understanding consequences.

“When we don’t support people with FASD the way in which they need, what we see are these secondary challenges that can be devastating,” said Rogozinsky.

Those with FASD can sometimes struggle with learning from past experience and understanding risks or consequences, making them vulnerable to high risk behaviours.

For children, their symptoms can disrupt their ability to learn and interact with their classmates at school.

In adults, it can cause issues with maintaining employment, addiction, homelessness and trouble with the law.

A 2011 study of Canadian inmates found 10 per cent suffered the effects of FASD despite not having been diagnosed before intake into the prison system.

“People who have FASD, they have brain differences. That means how they learn, how they respond is going to look a little bit different than a neurotypical brain. The more we recognize this, we can support the individual the way they need,” said Rogozinsky.

While messaging that FASD is one hundred per cent preventable is often repeated, Rogozinsky said FASD needs to be treated as a community issue rather than a moral failure on the part of a mother.

“We need to take a social determinant of health perspective when it comes to prevention. Prevention is not about telling women not to drink, it’s about supporting them so that they capacity to abstain from alcohol,” Rogozinsky said.

For example, she would like to see those trying to prevent FASD look at other factors that may influence a woman’s ability to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, such as homelessness or domestic violence, and provide targeted resources for pregnant women with chronic alcohol addiction issues.
Click here to read the full article.

September is FASD Awareness Month!


Every year on September 9th, International FASD Awareness Day is observed. Proclamations are issued in countries, states, provinces, and towns all around the world.  Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska.  People all around the world gather for events to increase awareness of the harmful effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and the need of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and their families for life long support. The first FASDay was celebrated on 9/9/99.  This day was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, no alcohol is best.  Anytime is a good time to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Here are some easy things you can do:

Get informed:

  • FASD prevention involves much more than providing information about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy. There are four levels of FASD prevention and all are important.
  • What does “FASD awareness” actually mean? The answer is that FASD awareness is multi-layered… Learn more.
  • Discover the new, most excellent CanFASD infographic here, with key messages about what is known about alcohol and pregnancy.
  • Learn how to effectively address the common questions about FASD while avoiding stigmatization here.
  • Know someone struggling with FASD? This infographic summarizes the challenges caregivers of a person with FASD face, and how to best help them.

Get the word out:

  • Breach the subject: Specific prevention strategies have been shown to have positive impacts in preventing or reducing alcohol use in pregnancy and also in reducing negative outcomes for those affected by FASD. Ask about the use of alcohol with all women and girls in their childbearing years.
  • Service providers across a range of health care and social service settings can have an important role in addressing the potential harms of substance use, including alcohol.This resource focuses on brief intervention with girls and women in the preconception and perinatal period.
  • FASD is not only a women’s issue. Here‘s what men can do to help.
  • Get active on Social Media. If you use #FASDAwarenessDay #CanFASD, or @CanFASD on Facebook and Twitter, you may WIN Great Prizes from CanFASD! Lacking inspiration? Simply retweet the facts CanFASD has been posting here.
  • Click here for many more ideas.

The FASD Patient Journey Project, WE NEED YOUR HELP


What is it the FASD Patient Journey (FASD PJ) Project?

  • The FASD PJ is a project that seeks to enhance services for individuals with FASD and their families.
  • The project team will be visiting key communities throughout Alberta conducting interviews with adults with FASD, parents/caregivers, and service providers to hear about their experiences with FASD services, including addiction and mental health.

Who will the FASD PJ Project be interviewing

  • We want to interview adults with FASD, parents and caregivers of children with FASD, and FASD service providers.
  • We will not be sharing your personal identification information and your participation in the interview will be kept anonymous.

Where will the FASD PJ Project be interviewing?

  • The FASD PJ Project Team will be interviewing service users and providers in Edmonton and Calgary, and in various communities across Alberta that have a FASD Network.

When will the interviews take place?

  • We will be interviewing throughout the fall of 2018.

How can I participate in the FASD PJ Project?

  • Please let your FASD Network or Clinic know of your interest, or contact Randal Bell at 780-224-5802.


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