Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the leading preventable cause of birth defects, developmental disorders and intellectual disability in unborn children. To avoid this completely preventable disorder and improve your knowledge about it, here are some useful tools and information for your practice.
Alcohol crosses the placenta and is toxic for the fetus. The effects of alcohol use during pregnancy are unpredictable, variable and permanent. Nearly 400 possible health problems have been associated with it.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is difficult to diagnose and often confused with other diagnoses, such as oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity.
Did you know that…
80% of Quebec women aged 12 and up consume alcohol and nearly 50% of them do so regularly.
29% of women aged 18–34 have drank excessively (4 or more drinks on one occasion) at least once a month during the past year.
The ASPQ has developed its first awareness campaign entitled During pregnancy, go alcohol free. It can help you raise awareness of this issue among your patients.
The ASPQ offers you a short meeting to raise your team's awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
A. After exploring and supplementing the woman’s knowledge of the consequences of alcohol use during pregnancy, attempt to learn more about her reasons for drinking in order to offer support without seeking justification.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask :
If she displays some openness in this regard, let her know that it’s never too late to stop drinking and share some resources with her.
A. No, because there’s no recognized safe level of alcohol use for the fetus. In addition, the consequences of alcohol are unpredictable and depend on uncontrollable factors, such as the genetics of the mother and the unborn child. This is why we recommend abstinence.
A. You can find different options in the Resources section.
A. It’s important to educate the following three target audiences to better prevent FASD.
A. Only 10 % to 20 % of people with FASD have characteristic facial features. According to the 2015 Canadian guidelines, a multidisciplinary team is required to confidently make a FASD diagnosis. Since there are few specialized teams in Quebec, FASD is under-diagnosed.
If you suspect FASD in a child, specialists at the CHU Sainte-Justine, the Montreal Children’s Hospital or the CHUL in Quebec City can be consulted. SafEra, an organization that specializes in supporting people with FASD, can also refer you to specialized professionals.
To learn more about the importance of diagnosing earlier rather than later, consult the second FASD newsletter, “Briser les tabous pour mieux prévenir” (in French only).
A. The effects of alcohol on a developing baby are variable, unpredictable and permanent. FASD is not a disease, but an irreversible condition. Therefore, there is no treatment. However, early management to stimulate certain spheres of development and propose compensatory strategies will ensure an easier life.
Since 2020, the ASPQ has published an annual newsletter during International FASD Awareness Month.
The ASPQ has produced various reports that are available to professionals and caregivers to learn more about FASD.
The more our society is aware of the impacts of alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD, the easier it will be to support expectant mothers in abstaining from alcohol during this stage of their lives as well as support people with FASD and their families.
Contribute to this movement by sharing information with your friends and family!
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