Category Archives: General Information

Ready or Not: Mental Health and Stress


Everyone feels worried, sad or stressed at times. Very high levels of stress can affect your ability to conceive a baby. Developing babies exposed to high levels of stress may develop problems later in life. If you’re concerned about your worrying, sadness or stress speak with your health care provider. There are many things you can do that can help.

Stress is the emotional, mental and physical strain that happens when something changes in the world around you.

It could be a new job, moving, loss of a family member or friend or a change in finances.

Some stress is positive. It challenges you to try something new or learn how to do something you haven’t done before.

However, high levels of stress or stress that lasts a long time can have negative health effects.

Learn more about stress here.

High levels of stress can change your hormones. Hormones are chemicals that travel throughout the body and help control how your cells work.

Stress can affect your body’s ability to release an egg (ovulate). Since stress may delay releasing an egg, the days in your cycle that you’re able to become pregnant (fertility window) will change.

If you’re feeling stressed, you may also be less interested in sex.

Stress can also affect your testosterone levels. This can affect your sperm and sexual function.

Stress can have physical, emotional and mental effects. High levels of stress or constant stress is called toxic stress. If your level of stress is very high and constant, your body is making stress hormones almost all the time. This affects how your brain works and can lead to problems with your mental and physical health.

Developing babies exposed to high levels of stress hormones through their mother’s placenta are at higher risk of developing learning disabilities, attention disorders, and behavioural or emotional problems.

Some signs that your stress level is high include:

  • feeling irritable or easily frustrated
  • arguing more with your partner, friends or family
  • using more tobacco, alcohol or drugs to cope

Long-term stress can increase your risk for:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • high blood pressure

Some ways to cope with stress include:

  • eat regular meals
  • eat a healthy diet and drink enough water
  • take time every day to relax, rest and get enough sleep
  • exercise regularly
  • reach out to family or friends
  • talk to people in your social network

For more information please visit:

DRINKAWARE: Mocktails Made Easy

Creating alcohol-free drinks with party appeal is easy. Choose a delicious mocktail from the tutorial videos below and let an expert mixologist walk you through how to prepare it.

If you’re heading out rather than staying in, many pubs, restaurants, and bars should offer a mocktail menu. And if they don’t, try ordering a ‘virgin’ version of your favourite cocktail from the bartender – one without alcohol.

Lime Rickey

Legend has it that this kissing cousin to the mojito was invented by Colonel Rickey, a nineteenth-century English officer posted in Washington. For a seasonal twist, try making with crushed ice. Either buy some ready made from your local off licence, or take a rolling pin to a bag of ice in the kitchen.

The Real Shirley Temple

For a spot of film star glamour at your annual drinks do, try this Hollywood classic. Apparently, it was first served to the young starlet by a barman in Beverley Hills when she first hit the big-time. If you’re not a fan of ginger ale, try it with lemonade instead.

Virgin Mary

This non-alcoholic version of the classic Bloody Mary is a tomato juice drink that you can sip all day and night. For best results, use top quality tomato juice for a rich and authentic taste. It’s also a healthy choice for breakfast.

Sparkling Pom Collins

The Tom Collins is honoured by mixologists around the world as the granddaddy of all modern cocktails. The recipe was first written down in 1876, but this contemporary non-alcoholic version puts a new twist on an old favourite.

Ginger Limeade

Ginger limeade is a deliciously sweet ‘n citrusy mocktail and its sophisticated bite makes it a great choice to keep your guests warm and cosy when the temperature is dropping outside. For best results, cut the ginger as fine as you can so that its natural warmth infuses the whole drink.

Retrieved from


Alcohol Use Disorder


Health experts are drawing attention to women reaching for a drink to take the edge off after analysis shows they may be consuming more alcohol.

The National Institutes of Health highlights a trend that has women closing in on the gender drinking gap.

“Men drink more than women, but the gap is shrinking,” said Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The NIAAA cited a 2015 study led by Aaron White, Ph.D., NIAAA’s senior scientific advisor to the Director. The organization said longstanding differences between men and women in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms might be narrowing within the nation.

The analysis reviewed data including current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder”, or AUD, and driving under the influence of alcohol over the past year.

The NIAAA says the data shows a narrowing gap for females and males between 2002 and 2012. The data shows the percentage of people who drank alcohol in the previous 30 days increased for females from 44.9 percent to 48.3 percent, but decreased for males from 57.4 percent to 56.1 percent.

The NIH indicated more than 5 million women live with AUD. Doctors say the line can be murky between the health benefits of a nightly glass of wine and the amount that could catalyze habits with consequences. While many women in central Ohio may not be diagnosed with AUD, they may say ‘yes’ to an evening treat of “mommy juice”.

“That’s meant to describe alcohol, but in a way that it fuels you,” explains Columbus resident Shelby Fulton. “Coffee is your morning ‘mommy juice’ and in the evening you have a glass of wine to decompress. And if you’re stressed out you’re not going to be the best version of the mom you want to be. It helps you relax. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Dr. Koob agrees that one glass may not be a problem, but calls for women to take note of the quantity of consumption.

Alcohol Use Disorder includes people who find it difficult to stop or control alcohol use. Doctors say women sipping more than either three drinks per day or seven drinks per week are at risk.

“When you start exceeding those levels you’re pushing the envelope for problems associated with alcohol,” said Koob.

To assess whether you or loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask. If you answer yes to any of these, doctors suggest you speak to a professional.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?


Researchers found women may have to consume more alcohol than men to trigger the reward center in the brain. To learn more about this study, click here.

To learn more about AUD and growing trends, click here.

Retrieved from

A healthy eating guide to pregnancy

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 10.57.05 AM

Folic Acid (Folate)

Choose foods high in folate and take a multivitamin with folic acid in it to help prevent neural tube defects (e.g., spina bifida—in which the spine doesn’t form as it should) in your baby. Choose a multivitamin that has 0.4–1.0 mg of folic acid.

Some women may need higher levels of folic acid. Talk to your health care provider about your folic acid needs before you get pregnant if:

  • you’ve had an earlier pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
  • you have a close relative with a neural tube defect
  • you have diabetes, epilepsy or are obese
  • you take medicine on a regular basis

Talk to your health care provider before taking more than 1 mg of folic acid a day.

Foods high in folate or fortified with folic acid:

  • whole grain breads, leafy green vegetables, beans and lentils, citrus fruits and juices and most cereals.

    Multivitamins with folic acid

    Healthy eating and taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid helps you prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Make sure your multivitamin with folic acid (0.4–1.0 mg) also contains iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Talk to your health care provider about the supplement that is right for you.

  • If you are not already taking a multivitamin, begin now and take it throughout your pregnancy.


Your iron needs are very high during pregnancy. Your body makes about an extra 2 kg (4 lbs.) of blood during pregnancy. You need higher amounts of iron to make this extra blood.

Choose foods high in iron and take a multivitamin containing folic acid and iron. Your body absorbs the iron from meat, poultry and fish better than iron from other foods. In your third trimester, your baby is storing up iron to use for the first 6 months after birth.

For your body to absorb more iron, eat a food containing vitamin C (e.g., oranges or strawberries) and a food containing iron at the same time. For example, have vegetables with meat, or an orange with a bowl of cereal and milk. Tea and coffee can interfere with iron absorption, so limit these drinks and have them between meals rather than at meals. Some women may need more supplemental iron than others. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out how much is right for you.

Best sources of iron:

  • beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish, sardines, shrimp, oysters and mussels

Other foods with iron:

  • legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), tofu, whole grain and enriched cereals


    When you’re pregnant, it’s hard to get the amount of iron you need just from the foods you eat. Health care providers recommend all pregnant women take a multivitamin with folic acid and iron (16–20 mg) during pregnancy. Anemia during pregnancy has been linked to decreased weight gain, preterm birth, and babies with a low birth weight.

  • A common sign of anemia is feeling tired. However, since most women feel tired during their pregnancy anyway, blood tests are an important way your health care provider can make sure you’re getting enough iron.
  • If you follow the nutrition recommendations provided and take your multivitamin with folic acid and iron every day, you should get the amount of iron you need. Only take an extra iron supplement if your healthcare provider tells you to. Iron supplements can make you constipated, so be sure to increase your intake of fiber and fluids.


Calcium helps keep your bones strong. It also helps your muscles and nerves work properly. During pregnancy, calcium helps your baby build strong bones and teeth too.

Drink at least 500 ml (2 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverage each day.

Foods high in calcium:

  • milk and yogurt
  • calcium-fortified beverages, such as soy, rice or orange juice—the label must say calcium fortified

Other sources of calcium:

  • cheese, canned salmon or sardines with bones, and tofu made with calcium

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important during pregnancy. It helps keep your bones strong and builds strong bones in your baby. It also helps your baby store up her own vitamin D to use during her first few months.

Many Canadians don’t get enough vitamin D. Be sure to follow Canada’s Food Guide: drink at least 500 ml (2 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverage daily and eat at least 2 servings of fish per week. You also need to take a supplement with vitamin D (400 IU) every day. Check your multivitamin to see how much vitamin D you’re getting from it. You may need to add an extra vitamin D supplement if the multivitamin has less than 400 IU.

Foods high in vitamin D:

  • milk, fortified soy beverages, fish (e.g., salmon, trout, herring, Atlantic mackerel and sardines) and vitamin D-fortified orange juice

Note: Not all milk products are high in vitamin D. In Canada, milk, margarine and some yogurts have vitamin D added to them.

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction: Youth and Alcohol

EnglishLogoThe Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) are based on research and were created to provide Canadians with recommendations for alcohol consumption that could limit their health and safety risks. Some might suggest that since people younger than 19 (or 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec) cannot legally buy alcohol, the only guideline for them should be, “Don’t drink.” The reality is that many youth do drink alcohol.

There is evidence that drinking alcohol can harm physical and mental development, particularly in adolescence and early adulthood, although certain patterns of use are riskier than others. For this reason, the LRDGs recommend that youth delay drinking alcohol for as long as possible, at least until the legal drinking age. If youth do decide to drink, they should follow the more specific drinking guidelines provided below.

What Are the Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for Youth?

Canada’s LRDGs recommend that youth up to the legal drinking age:

• Speak to their parents about drinking;

• Never have more than one to two drinks per occasion; and

• Never drink more than one or two times per week.

Canada’s LRDGs recommend that from the legal drinking age to 24 years:

• Females never have more than two drinks a day and never more than 10 drinks a week • Males never have more than three drinks a day and never more than 15 drinks a week

The maximums for youth above the legal drinking age differ from the general LRDGs as these limits apply even on special occasions.

The Reason for Drinking Guidelines for Youth

Just like the body, the human brain is still developing throughout adolescence and early adulthood, until about 24 years of age. The frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to mature and is involved in planning, strategizing, organizing, impulse control, concentration and attention.

Drinking alcohol while these changes are occurring can have negative effects on the brain’s development. In addition to this risk, puberty causes neurochemical and hormonal changes that make adolescents more likely to engage in risky behaviour and seek thrilling experiences. Starting to drink at the time when strategy and planning skills are still underdeveloped and the desire for thrills is high can have harmful effects on a youth’s health and safety.

Click to download full Youth and Alcohol Guidelines: CCSA-Youth-and-Alcohol-Summary-2014-en

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 8.25.42 AM

Global Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Among Children and Youth A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(10):948-956. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1919

Key Points

Question  What is the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among children and youth in the general population?

Findings  In this meta-analysis of 24 unique studies and 1416 unique children and youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, approximately 8 of 1000 in the general population had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and 1 of every 13 pregnant women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy delivered a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was found to be notably higher among special populations.

Meaning  The prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among children and youth in the general population exceeds 1% in 76 countries, which underscores the need for universal prevention initiatives targeting maternal alcohol consumption, screening protocols, and improved access to diagnostic services, especially in special populations.


Importance  Prevalence estimates are essential to effectively prioritize, plan, and deliver health care to high-needs populations such as children and youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). However, most countries do not have population-level prevalence data for FASD.

Objective  To obtain prevalence estimates of FASD among children and youth in the general population by country, by World Health Organization (WHO) region, and globally.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, MEDLINE in process, EMBASE, Education Resource Information Center, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Web of Science, PsychINFO, and Scopus were systematically searched for studies published from November 1, 1973, through June 30, 2015, without geographic or language restrictions.

Study Selection  Original quantitative studies that reported the prevalence of FASD among children and youth in the general population, used active case ascertainment or clinic-based methods, and specified the diagnostic guideline or case definition used were included.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Individual study characteristics and prevalence of FASD were extracted. Country-specific random-effects meta-analyses were conducted. For countries with 1 or no empirical study on the prevalence of FASD, this indicator was estimated based on the proportion of women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy per 1 case of FASD. Finally, WHO regional and global mean prevalence of FASD weighted by the number of live births in each country was estimated.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prevalence of FASD.

Results  A total of 24 unique studies including 1416 unique children and youth diagnosed with FASD (age range, 0-16.4 years) were retained for data extraction. The global prevalence of FASD among children and youth in the general population was estimated to be 7.7 per 1000 population (95% CI, 4.9-11.7 per 1000 population). The WHO European Region had the highest prevalence (19.8 per 1000 population; 95% CI, 14.1-28.0 per 1000 population), and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region had the lowest (0.1 per 1000 population; 95% CI, 0.1-0.5 per 1000 population). Of 187 countries, South Africa was estimated to have the highest prevalence of FASD at 111.1 per 1000 population (95% CI, 71.1-158.4 per 1000 population), followed by Croatia at 53.3 per 1000 population (95% CI, 30.9-81.2 per 1000 population) and Ireland at 47.5 per 1000 population (95% CI, 28.0-73.6 per 1000 population).

Conclusions and Relevance  Globally, FASD is a prevalent alcohol-related developmental disability that is largely preventable. The findings highlight the need to establish a universal public health message about the potential harm of prenatal alcohol exposure and a routine screening protocol. Brief interventions should be provided, where appropriate.

Retrieved from:

« Older Entries