FASD is preventable.
FASD is a uniquely complex disability as are the reasons behind why a woman may be consuming alcohol in her pregnancy.
While the research on FASD is rich in grey areas, there is no margin of error in the assertion that a woman who avoids alcohol for the full term of her pregnancy runs no risk of having a child with FASD.
“No thanks – I’m pregnant” is simply the best form of prevention.
No alcohol during pregnancy.
We need to dispel the myth that FASD is something only chronic heavy drinkers need to worry about.
Yes, the risk of FASD increases with the amount of alcohol a woman consumes while pregnant; but science has yet to quantify a “safe amount” of alcohol during pregnancy. This makes the decision to drink during pregnancy something of a gamble.
Amid all the doubt and debate, the questioning and the quibbling, one assertion is unequivocal and undeniable (even if it is sometimes divisive*): it’s safest not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
FASD affects everyone.
Despite popular misconceptions, FASD is not an issue exclusive to Indigenous communities and chronic substance abusers. It occurs in all segments of society. It crosses all cultures and pays no heed to social standing or economic status. FASD does not discriminate, and no one is immune.
The impacts of FASD are also widespread. It affects individuals, families and communities. It affects you, and it affects me. We can’t always put a face to the matter – FASD is an invisible disability that often goes undiagnosed – but its impacts are felt in schools, workplaces, social service networks, justice systems….
We’re all in this together.
Creating a sense of safety is crucial.
To effectively engage women (and partners and communities…) in the Prevention Conversation, we must first create a climate in which they feel safe and free from judgement.
Managing the fear, confusion and social sigma that surround the issue of drinking alcohol during pregnancy is crucial to our success. Every woman deserves access to support without judgement or blame.
Relationships are important.
Most of the work of FASD prevention is relationship-based.
While it ultimately comes down to fostering the mother-child relationship, The Prevention Conversation cannot unfold effectively outside of the framework of a relationship that’s trust-based, sincerely caring and openly supportive.
FASD is complex
On the surface, the prevention of FASD seems strikingly simple: avoiding alcohol during pregnancy completely eliminates the risk.
Yet the complexity of root causes – the dynamics of addiction and mental health issues, the ripple effects of childhood trauma and abuse, the impacts of poverty and cultural identity, and so on – make the question of causality and the work of FASD prevention highly complex.
As FASD encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms, diagnosis is also complex, as the provision of care and support for those it affects. Addressing the complex needs of individuals with FASD most often requires additional support in health, social, educational and legal systems as well as in correctional services.