Background: Alcohol is a teratogen and prenatal exposure may adversely impact the
developing fetus, increasing risk for negative outcomes, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
(FASD). Global trends of increasing alcohol use among women of childbearing age due to economic
development, changing gender roles, increased availability of alcohol, peer pressure and social acceptability of women’s alcohol use may put an increasing number of pregnancies at risk for prenatal
alcohol exposure (PAE). This risk has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in some
countries. Method: This literature review presents an overview on the epidemiology of alcohol use
among childbearing age and pregnant women and FASD by World Health Organization regions;
impact of PAE on fetal health, including FASD; associated comorbidities; and social outcomes. Results/Conclusion: The impact of alcohol on fetal health and social outcomes later in life is enormous,
placing a huge economic burden on countries. Prevention of prenatal alcohol exposure and early
identification of affected individuals should be a global public health priority.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is one of the leading neurodevelopmental disabilities in Canada. Current prevalence estimates are at 4% in North America, which means there are more than 1.5 million people with this disability in Canada alone.
FASD is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. Due to the complexity of this disability and the disproportionate impacts it has on various populations, individuals with FASD are struggling. It’s time for a National FASD Strategy.
What is a National Strategy?
We’ve been talking about a National FASD Strategy for a while, but what is that? A National FASD Strategy is basically a Canada-wide plan to will improve FASD prevention, intervention, and diagnostic efforts across the country. We are asking for a strategy that is created based on current evidence and best practices, and incorporate feedback from a number of key stakeholders like people with FASD, caregivers, researchers, policy makers, and service providers.
Why do we need a National FASD Strategy?
We know that FASD is complex. It intersects with many different sectors, issues, and systems: housing, mental health, healthcare, criminal justice, child welfare, education, and substance use. People with FASD are overrepresented in the welfare and criminal justice systems, and experience disproportionately high rates of homelessness, substance use challenges, suicide and mental health issues. 90% of individuals experience at least one mental health problem in their lifetime and have a 5.5 times greater risk of suicide. With the proper supports, people with FASD are more likely to succeed in all systems.
We need a strategy that makes sure everyone with FASD, couples who are pregnant or parenting, and those people who support them have access to the resources they need – wherever and whenever they need them. That’s why a National FASD Strategy is important.
FASD has historically been under-recognized by our federal government. A National FASD Strategy is a statement of leadership and commitment from the government. It shows Canadians that their government cares and recognizes the impact FASD has on their lives and are working to spread awareness of this disability and support those with FASD, their families, and couples who are pregnant or parenting.
How can you help support a National FASD Strategy?
Individuals with FASD have been disproportionately represented by government for many years, and it is time for a change. There are various ways you can help support a National FASD Strategy; however, the most effective way right now is by reaching out to your local candidates this federal election and asking them to support a National FASD Strategy.
To learn more about a National FASD Strategy, visit https://canfasd.ca/national-fasd-strategy/