There is no safe time, no safe kind, and no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.
In Alberta, FASD programs and services actively promote that drinking no alcohol during pregnancy is best – no exposure equals no risk. These programs address prevention, awareness as well as supports for diagnosis/assessment and a variety of supports to individuals with FASD and their families.
Alberta FASD programs focus on:
- awareness and prevention
- assessment and diagnosis
- supports and services for individuals with FASD, their families and caregivers
Alberta FASD Service Networks
The Service Networks deliver FASD-informed services across the province. They use a holistic, client-focused approach to work with their community partners to deliver culturally appropriate services to all Albertans.
The Service Networks are made up of community agencies and organizations that deliver FASD-related supports and services. The Service Networks provide community-based coordinated assessment and diagnosis, targeted prevention and support services for individuals with FASD and their caregivers. Each FASD Service Network is uniquely developed based on regional/community needs.
Learn more about the FASD Service Networks and find a network in your region.
Awareness and prevention
Prevention strategies in Alberta focus on supporting women who have given birth to one or more children affected by FASD, and those who are known to be pregnant and are consuming alcohol or other harmful substances. Services may include mentoring, substance abuse treatment, counselling, specialized prenatal and postpartum support.
Prevention strategies also include supporting women of childbearing age who use substances and who are not pregnant. Activities include outreach, screening, referral and brief intervention activities.
Prevention support services are specialized, culturally safe and accessible for women who use substances. Trauma-informed and harm-reduction oriented services support women to reduce or stop alcohol and/or drug use during pregnancy, and support healthy pregnancies.
How to prevent FASD
Research shows alcohol can harm a fetus. Since the fetus’ brain and body are developing throughout the pregnancy, drinking alcohol may cause harm at any time. If you are pregnant, there is no safe amount or type of alcohol to drink or trimester when it is safe to drink. This means no alcohol is best. No exposure equals no risk.
A healthy baby is not just a mother’s responsibility. The support of her partner, family, friends and the community goes a long way to help in supporting healthy pregnancies and families. This includes:
- managing stresses by talking about worries, taking one thing at a time and getting enough health food, exercise sleep and rest
- being patient and supportive
- helping with housework and caring for other children or family
- putting her needs first and asking others not to drink alcohol around her
- getting professional help if needed, such as counselling
To learn more about prevention services, contact your local FASD Service Network
Parent-Child Assistance Program
The Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) provides services for targeted and indicated prevention of FASD. PCAP provides specialized and holistic support to women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth and have used drugs and/or alcohol during the pregnancy.
PCAP’s goal is to prevent future births of children from prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs. They do this by addressing the needs of the mothers – getting them stabilized in a variety of ways. There are also First Nation PCAP programs.
For more information, go to the Alberta PCAP Council website.
The Prevention Conversation
The Prevention Conversation is an innovative approach that focuses on the unique role healthcare professionals and social service providers can play in engaging women of childbearing age in supportive and non-judgemental conversations about alcohol use and pregnancy.
Free training is available through the FASD Service Networks for anyone interacting with women of childbearing age. The Prevention Conversation continues to increase community awareness about FASD, raise the profile of the FASD Service Networks and strengthen community partnerships.
Let’s Get Real
The Let’s Get Real conversation targets and informs adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 about healthy lifestyle choices, including information on drinking, being sexually active and using protection.
For more information, go to the Let’s Get Real website.
Assessment and diagnosis
Across the province, there are a number of assessment and diagnostic clinics available for individuals who are seeking a diagnosis of FASD.
Assessment and diagnostic services may or may not lead to a confirmed diagnosis under the spectrum of FASD. The process of diagnosis for FASD includes assessment in areas such as cognitive and executive functioning, as well as attention and memory. The diagnostic process also includes a collection of medical and social history for the individual.
Diagnostic services are best completed by a multi-disciplinary team whose members include a physician/pediatrician, psychologist and other professionals, depending on the age of the individual.
An FASD diagnosis may not be immediately available, in cases where:
- a child is too young to be diagnosed
- there is not enough information
- prenatal alcohol exposure is unknown
To learn more, contact the FASD Service Network in your region.
View a list of assessment and diagnostic clinics in Alberta.
Supports and services
Supports for those with FASD in Alberta are programs and services available in the community, aimed at enabling individuals to reach their potential, as well as supports and assistance to families and caregivers of individuals affected by FASD.
- education and training about FASD
- FASD-informed support services for people with FASD and their caregivers
- outreach support and mentorship
- life skills programs
- justice-related supports such as youth programs and corrections outreach
- employment supports
- supportive housing
Support services promote the development and well-being of individuals and caregivers to promote healthy communities.
To learn more about supports and services, contact the FASD Service Network in your region.
Supports for students
Providing educational support for students with FASD in Alberta schools is essential to helping all students reach their academic potential. In collaboration with the Alberta FASD Service Networks, the Wellness, Resiliency and Partnership (WRaP) 2.0: FASD Coaching Partnership project is a service delivery model focused on increasing the capacity of teachers and schools to be able to meet the needs of students with FASD.
The WRaP 2.0: FASD Coaching Partnership project is designed to build capacity within the education system, and across all provincial school authorities, including Indigenous communities and Metis Settlements.
FASD Instructional Coaches support education staff by providing professional development on FASD best practices and hands-on support, allowing them to incorporate FASD-informed approaches in the classroom.
Giving teachers the tools to support students with FASD and their classmates helps provide an environment where all students can be engaged, have academic success and enhance their social, emotional and physical well-being.
Access the resource Relationships Matter: How relational-based supports can make a positive difference in Alberta schools.