Bringing FASD to the forefront
© Dave Mathieson – Amherst News
Domonique King (left) and Kathleen Hicks make FASD Knots in preparation for the International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Day ceremony in Victoria Square on Monday. The bells at First Baptist Church will ring to the tune of Here Comes the Sun and the knots and information will be presented on what’s considered one of the leading causes of preventable developmental disabilities.
AMHERST – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is among the most common causes of preventable developmental disabilities, but it’s also among the least understood.
The Cumberland FASD Working Group hopes to raise awareness of the disorder by coming together Monday in downtown Amherst to recognize International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Day.
“This day, the nine day of the ninth month, was chosen to underline how important it is to support women to avoid drinking alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy,” working group member Donna Farrell of Maggie’s Place said.
To mark the occasion, members of the working group will join with other organizations in Victoria Square for a brief ceremony that will include the ringing of the bells at First Baptist Church to the Beatles’ song Here Comes the Sun.
Information packages are also being provided to local service agencies and physicians’ offices.
Education material will also be handed out along with a number of FASD knots.
It is estimated that every year nine out of every 1,000 babies born in Canada are born with FASD. Sandy Partridge of Addictions Services says many Canadians are living with lifelong effects of FASD and do not know it.
FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of harms caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These may include lifelong physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities.
The disorder has a broad social impact with many individuals requiring lifelong support to cope with the demands of daily life.
It can affect anyone regardless of income, education, community or background. Health, social, education and justice systems are involved at the community and provincial levels, with the cost to Canadians of approximately $5.3 billion a year.
“Communtiy members, health and social service providers, and local decision makers all have a role to play in supporting pregnant women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy and raising awareness that there is no safe amount, no safe type and no safe time to drink during pregnancy,” Partridge said.
Charlotte Ferguson of Public Health said it’s important to get accurate information out to the public about FASD, and she said it’s important for people not to be judgmental. Having a child with FASD doesn’t mean the mother is bad, since it can only take one drink even before the mother knows she’s pregnant.
Lisa Cuvelier’s adopted child has FASD.
“We got him when he was two-and-a-half. After about six months we knew that he had some issues,” she said. “The IWK was wonderful and we went to seminars on FASD. He’s now 11 and he continues to have issues with learning, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. He also hears voices.”