Mark your calendars!
The study of epigenetic mechanisms is fast on its way to becoming an important method for understanding and potentially diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
“Epigenetics studies of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” a recent review published in Future Medicine by a team of Kids Brain Health Network researchers found that several epigenetic mechanisms are affected by alcohol, which could explain many of the neurobiological deficits and abnormalities associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.
“This area of research holds more promise than ever,” says Dr. Joanne Weinberg, co-author of the review.
Fetal alcohol syndrome was coined nearly 40 years ago, and is the most severe end of the FASD spectrum, characterized by distinctive facial features and extreme cognitive delays. However, the spectrum is quite broad and depends on many factors including the level of alcohol exposure and genetic background. At the milder end of the spectrum, symptoms can be as inconspicuous as…
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A national symposium hosted in Regina this week focused on how best to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action regarding fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
One recommendation calls for culturally appropriate prevention of FASD and the other for improving the way the justice system deals with people who have the disorder.
“We need new ways to think about these issues,” said University of Regina associate professor Michelle Stewart, who helped organize the symposium.
The report’s recommendations call on all Canadians to think about what the legacies of residential schools might have to do with the prevalence of FASD in Indigenous populations, Stewart said.
This involves looking at the root causes of why a woman would drink while pregnant.
Policy makers, researchers, police chiefs, frontline workers and students attended the presentations and round table discussions at the symposium, which featured speakers came from British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and New Brunswick.
The symposium also heard from affected mothers.
Stewart said it’s important to change the way professionals interact with mothers of children with FASD.
“Sometimes in the absence of having culturally appropriate and holistic approaches in addressing FASD, we can see the delivery of practices that don’t feel safe for Indigenous moms,” she said.
“We had some moms sharing their experiences of feeling alienated and experiencing systems that weren’t accommodating to them.”
Recognizing the stigma that surrounds the disability “requires recognizing that the disability is often quite racialized,” Stewart said.
There’s a lot of poor delivery of practices for Indigenous women who seek care, she stressed, and a need for a better effort to understand mothers’ circumstances when they drink while pregnant.
Volunteers Needed For Intervention Study!
We are doing a research study on a self-regulation intervention for adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
We are looking for participants age 11 – 17 who have a diagnosis of FASD.
The intervention will take place over 12 weeks and will include weekly 1-hour one-to-one intervention sessions focusing on improving self-regulation.
Please read the information sheet below for more details!
It’s easy to feel contempt for an angry-looking young man in Facebook photographs.
Appearing to grip a handgun in one, in another he seems to be smoking something out of a miniature liquor bottle, flipping the camera the bird as he goes.
Last week Brian Kyle Thomas, 22, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Irvine Jubal Fraser, a 58-year-old transit driver who was fatally stabbed while on shift at the University of Manitoba.
The charges against Thomas have not been proven in court, and in Canada people are presumed innocent until found otherwise.
The crime is surely shocking.
But so is the story of the man who stands accused of it.
As previously reported, Thomas was born on Shamattawa First Nation with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and immediately taken into foster care. Over the next 18 years he would be placed in 73 different foster homes.
That means that as a baby, a toddler, a kid and teenager, Thomas packed up his meagre belongings an average of four times a year and moved to a different house, a different bedroom, a new routine, new rules, new foster parents and possibly a new school.
Many Indigenous children in government care are failed by the very system that is supposed to not just protect them, but lead them into a successful adulthood.
In 2001, 88 per cent of Indigenous inmates and 63 per cent of non-Indigenous in a Manitoba correctional facility did not live at home during their teens, mainly because they were in foster care, according to a study cited by the office of the Children’s Advocate in 2012.
That same report noted a prevalence of FASD among adult prisoners.
In what appear to be Thomas’ Facebook photos, there are no images of his family, no vacations, no friends, no school portraits.
He posts a picture of a cat he calls “MEW like on pokemon” and writes “miss my cat alote.” No one responds. No one seems to care.
Thomas has seven previous criminal convictions including convictions for assault, uttering threats and possession of a dangerous weapon.
I would not want to live next door to him or encounter him on the street, but I very much doubt that he was born the man who would later accumulate such a lengthy rap sheet.
A long series of failures and injustices — historical and modern — lead to tragedies like these for the families of the victims, for society, and for those who stand accused.
And unless we take a critical look at the road travelled to this point, there will be more heartbreak.