September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder awareness month, and the people at the Central Alberta FASD Network want to get the word out there about how to avoid the most preventable known disability.
While the symptoms can vary, less than 10% of people who have FASD display physical symptoms, which can make it tough to diagnose, and there is no cure or form of treatment besides support.
Affecting more than 1.5 million Canadians, FASD affects more people than those with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and Down syndrome combined, but even with these high numbers, FASD continues to be largely misunderstood by the general public.
To help shine a spotlight on this disability and the support options available, the Central Alberta FASD Network will be providing helpful information live on their Facebook page all month long.
Community Prevention Coordinator for the Central Alberta FASD Tammy Predovic says the condition occurs when a fetus is exposed to alcohol in the womb, and they want to avoid any stigma around this disability since not all women know they are pregnant when they have a drink.
“There’s a number of reasons why it can happen, so we want women to be able to learn more about the impact alcohol can have on a fetus… in general, when a fetus is exposed to alcohol in the womb, it can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and we do not know exactly how much alcohol and when in a pregnancy it can impact the fetus, we just know that the possibility is there… alcohol can impact during a pregnancy at any point in the pregnancy, sometimes even before a women knows she is pregnant.”
Predovic says there can be a number of factors why a woman would drink while pregnant, and it's important not to shame them about their decisions which may prevent them from seeking support.
“It can take up to two months before a woman knows she is pregnant, so if alcohol is consumed at any time during those first two months, alcohol can impact the pregnant and FASD can occur. Some women have issues with addiction, there could be trauma-related things occurring, there could be a number of other factors such as the environment that they are in, there could be mental health issues. So it’s really hard to say what’s going on for a woman where alcohol is consumed because we don’t know all of their stories and FASD is very often underreported in terms of researching facts about why alcohol is consumed during a pregnancy.”
FASD Day is held annually on the 9th day of the 9th month, to represent the 9 months of pregnancy.
To learn more about this complex disorder and the local supports available, you can click here to head to the Central Alberta FASD website.