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There is no safe time, no safe kind, no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a diagnosis to describe impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is a lifelong disability. Canadian researchers estimate that 4% of Canadians have FASD. As approximately 60% of pregnancies are unplanned, the risk of prenatal exposure to alcohol is significant.
Individuals with FASD may experience some degree of challenges in their daily living and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, attention, emotional regulation and social skills to reach their full potential.
Each individual with FASD is unique and has areas of both strengths and challenges. Although people with FASD experience complex challenges, they also possess resilience, strength and abilities, and offer valuable contributions to society.
It is important to know:
- Experts agree there is no safe time or safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
- Individuals with FASD, who are not supported, experience significant adverse outcomes and secondary disabilities.
- Early identification, intervention and appropriate supports can make a positive impact and improve outcomes for those with the disorder.
- A diagnosis can help guide appropriate interventions and supports for success and provide needed information and resources for youth transitioning to adult systems and supports.
- FASD can affect all ages, genders across cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Overview of FASD in Alberta
FASD is the leading known cause of developmental disability in Canada. An estimated 4% of Canadians, or 1,451,600 people, have FASD. This means there are approximately 174,000 Albertans with FASD.
According to the latest results from the 2017 Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 77% of Canadian women reported consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past year. Given that approximately 60% of pregnancies are reported to be unplanned, a significant number of unborn babies are at a high risk of prenatal exposure to alcohol. A recent survey found that of almost 90% of Albertans who were aware of FASD, 48% reported knowing someone with FASD or someone caring for an individual with FASD.
There is no safe time or safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant or when planning to become pregnant. Yet, according to a University of Calgary longitudinal pregnancy study, 49% of Alberta women reported drinking some alcohol during pregnancy, including before they realized they were pregnant.
The personal, social and economic impacts of FASD are profound. The prevalence of FASD is greater than Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome combined. FASD can be preventable by supporting women to have healthy pregnancies. FASD can have significant personal impacts on individuals, families and caregivers.
Alberta’s FASD Strategy focuses on developing and delivering community-based solutions, making it easier for people affected by FASD to get the help they need, at any point during their life. FASD-related initiatives across Alberta continue to help build awareness, promote prevention, increase access to FASD assessment and diagnosis clinics, conduct new research and provide supports and services for people with FASD, their families and caregivers.
Learn more about FASD programs and services
FASD Cross-Ministry Committee
In 2007, the Government of Alberta launched a cross-ministry initiative to develop a comprehensive and coordinated response to FASD with a continuum of supports across the lifespan.
This system-wide model of prevention and service delivery has made Alberta a leader in the field, in Canada and internationally, and resulted in more integrated and coordinated service delivery in communities.
The FASD Cross-Ministry Committee – supported by government ministries, agencies, federal partners and community-led councils of experts and stakeholders – provides strategic oversight, ensuring accountability, standardization of practices and stakeholder representation.
Alberta is also a founding member of the Canada Northwest Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Partnership made up of seven jurisdictions: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The partnership uses a cross-jurisdictional approach to advance evidence-based policy development and service design in FASD prevention, diagnosis and support.
FASD Alberta Service Network Portal is a navigation hub for FASD services in Alberta.
Connect with the FASD Network in your region:
Website: FASD Alberta Service Network Portal