Tag Archives: prevention

In The News: Shame not the solution for preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, says advocate


0umzDCrm_400x400Claire Theobal, EDMONTON — On International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, advocates warn shaming women may be doing more harm than good for at risk mothers and their babies.

“When we focus on FASD as simply being woman drinks alcohol causes FASD, we do a disservice to women as well as to the infants. FASD is a community issue, so awareness really needs to focus on what are the reasons behind a woman’s alcohol consumption while she’s pregnant,” said Lisa Rogozinsky, co-ordinator of the Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network on Sunday.

According to provincial estimates, nearly nine in every thousand babies in Alberta are born with FASD — around 500 every year — meaning there are more than 46,000 Albertans with FASD.

FASD describes a wide range of physical and mental disabilities caused when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy, including physical birth defects, developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory problems, as well as difficulties in communicating their feelings and understanding consequences.

“When we don’t support people with FASD the way in which they need, what we see are these secondary challenges that can be devastating,” said Rogozinsky.

Those with FASD can sometimes struggle with learning from past experience and understanding risks or consequences, making them vulnerable to high risk behaviours.

For children, their symptoms can disrupt their ability to learn and interact with their classmates at school.

In adults, it can cause issues with maintaining employment, addiction, homelessness and trouble with the law.

A 2011 study of Canadian inmates found 10 per cent suffered the effects of FASD despite not having been diagnosed before intake into the prison system.

“People who have FASD, they have brain differences. That means how they learn, how they respond is going to look a little bit different than a neurotypical brain. The more we recognize this, we can support the individual the way they need,” said Rogozinsky.

While messaging that FASD is one hundred per cent preventable is often repeated, Rogozinsky said FASD needs to be treated as a community issue rather than a moral failure on the part of a mother.

“We need to take a social determinant of health perspective when it comes to prevention. Prevention is not about telling women not to drink, it’s about supporting them so that they capacity to abstain from alcohol,” Rogozinsky said.

For example, she would like to see those trying to prevent FASD look at other factors that may influence a woman’s ability to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, such as homelessness or domestic violence, and provide targeted resources for pregnant women with chronic alcohol addiction issues.
Click here to read the full article.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Problem Fragmentation (Opinion Piece)

As a social problem and a consequence of the plethora of alcohol caused harms, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterised by complexity, ambiguity, and a lack of agreement on definition and solutions. Despite a history of applying a linear policy approach, prevention of FASD continues to be resistant to change. Multiple stakeholders engage (or try to engage) in the problem system, each with their diverse frames of reference and preferred definitions of the problem and its solution. After 40 years, many issues advocated in the late 1990s have not yet been resolved.

The technical complexities of FASD are in contrast with the problems in its social dimensions. Public policy preferences based in authoritative type solutions have emerged and this has fractured the problem of FASD into more problem parts, at least to those parts which can be quantified. There are consequences – the conundrum inherent in the diagnosis, determining the lowest threshold to cause fetal harm, the discretionary choice in respect to target groups and the search for evidence-based interventions. Eliminate the words ‘fetal’ or ‘alcohol’ and conflict can be avoided with the alcohol industry (demonstrated for example in the issue of voluntary labelling alcohol beverages) and the public coffers continue to bulge with collected tax revenues.

Meanwhile, such a focus denies the public the opportunity to bring oppositional pressure (Cobb, Ross & Ross 1976, pp. 126–138) and perpetuates the notion of FASD as a women’s problem, an Aboriginal problem, a problem focused on diagnosis and research attention to marginalised groups. It avoids the true prevalence of FASD ‘hidden’ among those diagnosed with alternatively named conditions, avoids a better understanding of the presentation of FASD across the lifespan and the pervasive use of alcohol in society. It has failed to meet the needs of individuals living with FASD and their families who carry the burden of care. Nor has sufficient attention been given to the lived experience of older adolescents and adults.

Governments rely researchers, and evidence produced from people considered qualified to know and understand the problem. Often there is an assumption that the interests of individuals living with FASD and their families are represented. The lifetime reality of FASD means poorer academic success, economic dependence, mental health diagnoses, alcohol and other drug dependencies, likely imprisonment, and homelessness. Acknowledgement of the long-term time frame needed to address prevention, and the historical, cultural, intellectual, personal and professional obstacles that exist – and including these topics as part of the conversations about FASD prevention – is critical.

Click image to read the full opinion piece 

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Yukon FASD Prevention Campaign Wins Design Award

Congratulations to the Yukon Government, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon, and Child Development Centre on their award-winning FASD prevention campaign! The campaign was launched by the Yukon FASD Interagency Advisory Committee in collaboration with Aasman Brand Communications, and has been recognized by the design world, winning a Summit Creative Award.

The Summit International Awards (SIA) is the oldest and most prestigious organization administering marketing awards exclusively for firms with limited billings. The Summit Creative Award is established as one of the premier indicators of creative and communication excellence. This competition rewards only those firms whose work exemplifies best in its class.

The FASD campaign, which focuses on supporting alcohol-free pregnancies, was recognized as one of the Top 10 “Best of Show” from over 5,000 entries across 26 countries.

Along with several unique and eye-catching posters, the campaign provides practical tips for friends and families to support alcohol-free pregnancies. More information about the campaign can be found here on the Yukon Government website.

Yukon MocktailYukon Root BeerYukon Coffee Bar


Red Shoes Rock: Take Up The Challenge This Summer


Thanks to our friends at Red Shoes Rock (https://www.facebook.com/RedShoesRock/), we will be taking up their challenge this summer in sporting red shoes as we roll, step, kick, nod, wave, blink, and run to build awareness around Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in an aim to make Edmonton and surrounding area the most FASD friendly city in Canada.

Stay tuned for more details but get your Red Shoes ready to Rock On!




Trauma-informed FASD Prevention and Care – Upcoming Webinar

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Service providers and FASD prevention advocates are well aware of the intersections of trauma, substance use, and mental health issues as first described by researchers like Lisa Najavits (Najavits, Weiss, & Shaw, 1997). Research from the Women and Co-occurring Disorders and Violence study substantiated what many understood intuitively – that women with substance use problems facing complex life issues are best served through multi-leveled, integrated service models that are trauma-informed, gender-specific, and holistic (Amaro, Chernoff, Brown, Arévalo, & Gatz, 2007; Brown & Melchior, 2008).

There is an upcoming opportunity to learn more about applying these approaches to FASD prevention and care in a webinar on April 18th at 9:00 am MST. The CSS Learning Series webinar as part of their FASD Learning Series will feature speakers Candice Sutterfield, Lakeland Centre for FASD, and Dr. Peter Choate, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Mount Royal University and clinical supervisor for the Alberta College of Registered Social Workers. They will address both a prevention and supports & services perspective. Sign up here: http://csslearningseries.ca/trauma-informed-fasd-prevention-and-care-registration-2/

Programs in Canada, like Breaking the Cycle and HerWay Home, currently offer integrated programs for/with pregnant and parenting women with substance use issues. Their program frameworks are trauma- and FASD-informed and they offer substance use treatment/support programming as well as needed social services and referrals at a single access point. Program evaluation findings show that relationship building is the key component benefiting women’s growth and supporting the mother-child relationship long-term. (See their evaluations here: Breaking the Cycle and HerWay Home).

In a very recent study undertaken in Ontario, findings from interviews with women participating in integrated programs, described qualities of a therapeutic relationship that helped women improve emotional regulation and executive functioning (Milligan, Usher, & Urbanoski, 2017). Therapeutic relationships that incorporate trust, care, positive regard and a non-punitive attitude can create a safe attachment from which women can apply effective problem solving in all areas of their lives.

Sign up for the webinar and see these earlier posts for more information:

The Mother-Child Study: Evaluating Treatments for Substance-Using Women, March 18, 2015

HerWay Home Program for Pregnant Women and New Mothers in Victoria, BC, February 12, 2013


Amaro, H., Chernoff, M., Brown, V., Arévalo, S., & Gatz, M. (2007). Does integrated trauma-informed substance abuse treatment increase treatment retention? Journal of Community Psychology, 35(7), 845-862.

Brown, V. B., & Melchior, L. A. (2008). Women with co-occuring disorders (COD): Treatment settings and service needs. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, SARC SUPPL 5, 365-385.

Milligan, K., Usher, A. M., & Urbanoski, K. A. (2017). Supporting pregnant and parenting women with substance-related problems by addressing emotion regulation and executive function needs. Addiction Research & Theory, 25(3), 251-261. doi:10.1080/16066359.2016.1259617

Najavits, L. M., Weiss, R. D., & Shaw, S. R. (1997). The link between substance abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder in women. A research review. The American Journal On Addictions / American Academy Of Psychiatrists In Alcoholism And Addictions, 6(4), 273-283.


FASD Webinar: Trauma-Informed FASD Prevention and Care, April 18, 2018

Register now for the April 18, 2018, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Webcast

Join us for this free webcast titled: Trauma-Informed FASD Prevention and Care.

In this webinar, our presenters will discuss the issues of trauma-informed FASD prevention and care. They will provide a definition of trauma and the impact it has on health, relationships, substance abuse, FASD prevention and presentation of services.

The topic will be addressed from both a prevention and supports and services perspective.

This webinar will be of interest to front-line workers, managers, support staff, caregivers and anyone directly affected by FASD.

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Time: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 a.m. MST
Speakers: Candice Sutterfield and Dr. Peter Choate

Register Here
Format: Presenters with PowerPoint Presentation
Cost: FREE! Please share with your networks
Q&A: You can pose questions to the speakers through the live chat functionality. Remember, the live webcasts are interactive and we encourage you to participate in the question and answer portions by typing questions for speakers in the chat window, which is located below the main video panel on the webcast page.

Candice is the supervisor for the mothers-to-be mentorship program, part of the Alberta Parent-Child Assistance Program, with the Lakeland Centre for FASD. As a supervisor, Candice provides guidance to the regional mentors, who build relationships with local partners through attendance at interagency meetings, annual medical advisory meetings, and regular meetings with key partners.

Dr. Peter Choate is a registered social worker and member of the clinical registry and an approved clinical supervisor for the Alberta College of Registered Social Workers. He holds a PhD in Addictions and a Master of Social Work. He is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Mount Royal University.

Previous webcasts are available on the CSS Learning Series Website.

The FASD Learning Series helps individuals, caregivers, front-line workers and professionals learn more about FASD, and how to support persons with FASD. The educational sessions cover a broad range of topics and are accessible to all Albertans.

Alberta’s FASD 10-Year Strategic Plan outlines the government’s commitment to provide awareness and prevention of FASD, as well as assessment, diagnosis, and support for individuals with FASD and their caregivers. All services and activities are built on a foundation of stakeholder engagement.

‘Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix’

Sourced from: http://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/health/alcohol-and-pregnancy-don-t-mix-1-3879873.
Embedded image permalinkFetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the name given to a group of permanent conditions that a person can develop when he or she is exposed to alcohol before they are even born. These conditions can include behavioural issues, and birth defects. As FASD is entirely preventable it is important for people to protect babies whenever possible.

By avoiding alcohol for the duration of your pregnancy, including the pre-pregnancy stage, you can ensure your baby will be born without alcohol-related brain damage.

The message being delivered by Elaine Torrance, chair of the Alcohol and Drug Partnership, is: “FASD is 100% avoidable and I am very clear that we need to increase awareness and understanding of this issue locally. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid alcohol altogether.”

Dr Diana Leaver, NHS Borders community paediatrician, said: “Children affected by FASD often show a variety of learning difficulties and behavioural problems and may be regarded as being wilful or undisciplined, when in fact they have little control over their behaviour. These children are not being naughty; it is the damage to their brain and nervous system caused by alcohol which means they truly cannot help behaving in this way.”

NHS Borders head of midwifery, Nicky Berry, said: “Everyone can play a role in raising awareness and preventing fetal alcohol harm. Families in particular can be supportive, especially when they are made aware of the long term health benefits.”

She added: “The earlier we can provide factual information and practical guidance to prospective mothers and their partners, the better the outcome will be for their baby. Any woman who is concerned about alcohol in pregnancy should speak to their midwife”.

Source: http://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/health/alcohol-and-pregnancy-don-t-mix-1-3879873

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