Remote mothers take control of drinking during pregnancy

Reporter Victoria Laurie of Perth reports that pregnant mothers have elimin­ated or reduced their intake of ­alcohol in a life-affirming turn­around in the Kimberley region, which made international headlines with one of the world’s highest rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, in findings published early this year.

Preliminary results of an attitudinal study indicate that the proportion of women who say they drank while pregnant has dropped from 65 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent now, according to Telethon Kids Institute clinical researcher James Fitzpatrick.

“The early data is very positive in terms of FASD prevention,” he said. “This is important knowledge as we know FASD is 100 per cent preventable. We’ve demonstrated that a multi-pronged prevention approach can work.”

Centred on the town of Fitzroy Crossing, the 450-strong Fitzroy Valley population — with 80 births a year — has had a high rate of children born with a serious alcohol-related disability. Researchers in the Liliwan study of FASD incidence in the region diag­nosed one in eight children born in 2002-03 with fetal alcohol syndrome; about 55 per cent of mothers admitted to drinking heavily while pregnant. “They were shocking figures, but the positive impact of a community-led FASD prevention strategy in recent years has brought down the levels of drinking in pregnancy,” Dr Fitzpatrick said.

A questionnaire of 200 people in the Fitzroy Valley in August showed 90 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men intended not to drink during their own or a partner’s pregnancy. Another 75 per cent said they would intervene if they saw a pregnant woman drinking, and urge her to abstain.

Dr Fitzpatrick said the turnaround was not entirely surprising to researchers because of an aggressive Aboriginal-led education campaign, spearheaded by Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services and Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre.

He said Fitzroy Crossing’s strict alcohol restrictions, education programs run by midwives and Aboriginal staff and an innovative model of mother-and-child care focused on FASD had raised awareness: “Diagnostic clinics where we show people the impact on children of drinking in pregnancy have been very helpful. I strongly suspect this synergistic approach is the one that made an impact.”

A member of the Australian National Advisory Council on ­Alcohol and Drugs reporting to Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash, Dr Fitzpatrick said he was encouraging the federal government to consider rolling out a scaled-up model across mainstream Australia .

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.


In Recognition of Work & Life of Manmeet Bhullar

CBC News reports the tragic accident of Calgary MLA Manmeet Bhullar. Bhullar, 35, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary-Greenway, was killed Monday by an out-of-control semi-trailer on the highway between Edmonton and Calgary after he pulled over to help a motorist who had lost control on the snowy road.


Manmeet Bhullar was first elected to the Alberta Legislature in 2008 and served as a cabinet minister in various roles, including infrastructure, human services, and Service Alberta (CBC)




Manmeet Bhullar’s colleagues, friends and family in Calgary are remembering him fondly for the sincerity he brought to public service throughout his relatively short yet accomplished life.

A loss for Alberta politics

“It’s devastating for everyone who knew Manmeet and knew what he did and his sense of spirituality and public service and what a fine person he was,” said former premier Jim Prentice.

“You really could not go anywhere in Alberta without being struck by the sense of admiration and affection and love that people in this province had for Manmeet as a political leader. This was a man who was in politics for all of the right reasons.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi expressed a similar sentiment about Bhullar’s final moments, saying pulling over to help a stranger is “exactly” fitting with his character.

“It’s a horrible thing to say, but it’s almost appropriate in that, if he was going to go, that he went helping somebody,” Nenshi said.

Premier ‘deeply saddened’

Premier Rachel Notley told reporters by teleconference from Ottawa Tuesday that she was “deeply saddened” by the news of Bhullar’s death.

She recognized Bhullar, in particular, for his work as minister of Human Services, when he led a shift toward greater transparency in reporting publicly on the deaths of children in provincial care.

“Whether in government or in opposition, Manmeet was always successful and very authentic, very committed and very capable,” she said.

“With his energy, youth and passion, I quite frankly suspected to see Manmeet in public life for decades to come. And I believe all Albertans are poorer for the fact we will not.”


Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

Northern Ontario pilot project aims to get MedicAlert bracelets for people with FASD

Ontario is testing ground for a new program for people living with FASD reports cbcnews.  Police and EMS personnel will be trained to look for MedicAlert bracelets and how to handle those with FASD.  This is an amazing project and hopefully Alberta will implement it for our population with FASD.

The FASD working group has representatives from Maamwesying Community Health Access Centre (Frances Pine and Priscilla Southwind), Stefanie Reinoso and Catherine Horton (Medic Alert), EMS and Marc Lesage and Chief of Police John Syrette (Anishnawbek Police Services).

Northern Ontario is the testing ground for a new program for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

People can apply for a MedicAlert bracelet identifying them as having the brain condition.

This pilot project is being headed up by the North Shore Tribal Council and Anishnabek Police.

Constable Cindy Hourtovenko said if an officer knows someone has FASD, they’re be able to handle them differently.

“Hopefully once they’ve had some education, they’re going to understand to take some time with this individual,” she said.

“Policing can be really fast paced and sometimes we have to learn to slow it down.”

Sometimes people with fetal alcohol syndrome speaking with police have been known to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

While the program is being based on the north shore, the MedicAlert bracelets are available to anyone with FASD.

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.


Free Pizza and Movie Night Event


The below event has been cancelled

We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you.

Where: 3705 Mill Woods Road East NW

When: December 06, 2015

Time: 6:15 – 9:15 pm



Coaching Families would like to invite all caregivers of children with FASD to a support group scheduled for December 08, 2015.   This is a chance for parents/caregivers to meet other caregivers, relief some stress, share their stories, exchange ideas, and problem solve.

There will be a limited child programming and a light supper available, so parents/caregivers can bring along their little ones if they can’t find a sitter.  Please RSVP to by December 01, 2015.  Please let Roxanna know if you are bringing little ones with you.


Coaching Families - December 2015 Flyer



The 2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre Puts Addiction Issues on the Spotlight reports that The 2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre and the Lakeland Centre for FASD hosted an indoor BBQ and had a presentation that highlighted the purpose of National Addiction Week (NAAW).  The 2nd Floor is was founded in June 2012 and they provide supports and services for women affected by addiction.  To date, they have served 77 women from across Alberta who have sought treatment for a drug or alcohol-related problems.

On Nov. 18, the 2nd Floor Women’s Recovery Centre put the spotlight on addiction.

Each year for a week in November, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) joins organizations across the country in honouring National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW).

During NAAW, organizations host free events and presentations to bring attention to addiction.

It provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about substance abuse prevention, talk about treatment and recovery and work towards positive change.

According to the CCSA, “addiction is a chronic health condition that affects individuals, families and communities”. With the proper support and education, addiction is preventable and treatable, and long-term recovery is attainable and sustainable.

This year, NAAW will be observed across the country from Nov. 15 to 21 with the theme of “Addiction matters”.

Locally, the 2nd Floor and the Lakeland Entre for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) will be kicking off Cold Lake’s first annual NAAW event.

The 2nd Floor is operated by the Lakeland Centre for FASD.

Since the 2nd Floor was founded in June 2012, they’ve provided programs and services for women affected by addiction. To date, they’ve served 77 women from across Alberta who have sought treatment for a drug or alcohol-related problem.

“Our mission is to help women break the cycle of addiction and reduce the number of babies born prenatally exposed to alcohol and drugs,” said Katherine Lobb, human resources assistant at the 2nd Floor.

While they welcome any women, the program targets those between the ages of 15 to 25 who are pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant.

“That age group is because most women in that age group are having their first or second child. So we’re trying to get to them before they have numerous children with an FASD diagnosis,” said Lobb.

“But we’ve had women in here as old as 70. As long as we have the room and we don’t have too long of a waiting list, any women are welcome.”

While the 2nd Floor is geared towards women battling alcohol and drug addictions, during NAAW they will be hosting an addictions awareness event that will educate the public on all forms of addiction and cater to both men and women of any age.

On Nov. 18, the Lakeland Centre for FASD and 2nd Floor will host an indoor barbecue and have a presentation that will put the spotlight on the purpose of NAAW.

According to Lobb , the presentation will highlight all forms of addiction.

“We’ll have different people here who can (answer) questions and we’ll let people know what substance abuse is, what it looks like, and the different types of addiction.

“There is substance related addiction like alcohol or drugs there’s your behavioural or process addictions which are things like gambling and sex addiction and video games,” said Lobb.

Lobb encourages anyone to attend the event, whether they themselves are battling an addiction or they have a loved one who is affected.

“Addictions can affect everybody. Even if you yourself doesn’t have an addiction, addiction is a chronic health condition and it affects individuals, families and communities,” said Lobb. “Cold Lake is still a fairly small community, your neighbour could have an addiction or your friend or your co-worker and it’s just good to be able to understand what addiction is and how you can help or even just reach out to let them know that you’re there for them and that you could help them out.”

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.


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