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/
The Yukon Wanderers project was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Digital Strategy Fund. It ran from 2019-2021. It provided training and capacity building in digital arts for two organizations in Whitehorse that support people with FASD: Options for Independence, and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of the Yukon (FASSY). It included workshops held in Whitehorse by visiting artists Rebecca Caines and Michelle Stewart, resourcing the partners with new digital equipment, and building new kinds of training and support for staff and peer leaders. When COVID-19 happened, we had to find new remote ways to work together across a range of digital platforms. It is part of a Canada-wide project called “multiPLAY: Digital Community Engagement with Canadian Improvisers”. Click here to check out all the different multiPLAY projects by visiting the multiPLAY website. The drop-in workshops, exhibitions and art workshops were also supported by other partners, including a national research partnership called the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI). Click here to find out more about IICSI’s improvisation art and research.
Lead Artists from the multiPLAY project
FASSY asks you to join us in celebrating 25 years of supporting people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the Yukon. We are delighted with the support that has enabled us to get to this significant milestone. We have so many people to thank for this support over the years, starting with the people who use our service, their families and support groups, so many other allied non-profits and service providers, and of course, the various governments and individuals who fund us to provide this support.
FASSY started as a result of many conversations over a kitchen table and was initially the Alcohol-Related Birth Defects Committee of the Yukon Association of Community Living (now Inclusion Yukon) and we are so grateful to them for helping us to get up and running. On February 19, 1996, FASSY became incorporated as a separate society. Over the past 25 years, FASSY has been able to provide much-needed support to people living with FASD, including daily support in problem-solving, relationships, finances, recreation and leisure, food and housing; supporting women to have healthy pregnancies; participating in cultural activities and ceremonies; accessing assessments and diagnoses; accessing and maintain stable housing; support in court and family services; and providing education and awareness about FASD. Plan, addressing issues of concern for people living in the Yukon about FASD. We have also been active partners with the “Safe at Home” action plan that is working to address homelessness within the Yukon and is supported by the federal program called Reaching Home. We have been able to create a partnership within the Community of Watson Lake to bring systems navigation to people who would like support through funding from Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN), the federal Reaching Home program, and the Government of Yukon. While we have accomplished a great deal over the past 25 years, there is still a great deal of work ahead of us to support all adults, children, and families to have a reliable and good quality of life. You can support the continued good work of FASSY by volunteering on the Board or for activities, donating to FASSY’s general fund, or donating to the Bill it Forward Fund [which helps individuals who wish to pursue a program or educational opportunity (academic, artistic or other); obtain job-related assistance (resume development, bus pass and/or other); or require emergency assistance (food, housing and/or other)]. Charitable donations can be made by using the donation button on our home paged.
We are celebrating quietly in the office with people using our service as they come in — a gift to them, a cupcake, and balloons fill out our celebration!
The Government of Yukon, the FASD Interagency Advisory Committee and the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership:
A Mosaic of Options: A Housing Continuum for People with FASD
FASD Symposium, March 3 & 4, 2020
Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon
FASSY gives a big thank you to the Whitehorse Rendezvous club for their generous donation – your consideration and thoughtfulness is very much appreciated. We also give a big thank you to Driving Forces for making the van a reality – the time you spent in discussion and research to find us this great van is appreciated!
One person commented that “I feel special in this van!”