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About SickKids

September 9, 2011

FASD Awareness Day

Nine months to abstain from alcohol

Can pregnant women drink alcohol? Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) experts don’t know if there is a safe amount at any point in the pregnancy. The safest choice is to not drink while pregnant.

On FASD Awareness Day―September 9, 2011―experts want to warn pregnant women about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Expectant mothers who drink put their children at risk for FASD, a cognitive and developmental disorder with long-term effects. Progress has been made on FASD research, detection and treatment over the years, helping planning, pregnant and breastfeeding women and their children.  

On September 13, 2011, FASD researchers from across the country will gather on Prince Edward Island for the 12th Annual Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise (FACE) Research Roundtable. FACE was established by the Motherisk Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). FACE researchers meet annually to share their latest findings in fetal alcohol research and interventions for people with FASD. Topics this year will include tools for early detection of FASD, cognitive training and impulse control for children with the disorder and ways to improve school performance.

This conference comes just days after International FASD Awareness Day, which is always held on the ninth day of the ninth month to mark the nine months of pregnancy that should be alcohol-free. The first FASD Awareness Day was held September 9, 1999, in Auckland, New Zealand.

“We have come a long way over the past few decades in diagnosing and treating FASD, but still most cases in Canada are undiagnosed and untreated, and much more work remains to be done in this area,” says Dr. Gideon Koren, Founding Director of the Motherisk Program.  “Research has shown us that exposure to alcohol in the womb is the most common cause of developmental disability in Canada.”

As the pre-eminent international centre for the study of the safety or risk of medications, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding, Motherisk’s far-reaching impact into FASD research has included discoveries in diagnostic hair-follicle testing and meconium (baby’s first bowel movement) analysis. Motherisk also operates the national Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline and hosts the annual FACE Research Roundtable. Both the Helpline and the Roundtable are supported by the Brewers Association of Canada. It has been involved in FASD research and awareness since 1989.

By: Kemisha Newman