Alcohol free pregnancies at heart of FASD Awareness

Latest News - 09 September 2019 | Encouraging women to have alcohol-free pregnancies to prevent their babies from developing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is at the heart of FASD Awareness Day today, supported by Counties Manukau Health (CM Health).

"Exposure to alcohol in utero is recognised as the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability in the developed world", says CM Health Developmental Paediatrician, Dr Louise Porteous. "No research has confirmed the exact prevalence of FASD in New Zealand, but international studies suggest FASD is conservatively estimated to occur in at least one out of every 100 live births and is likely to be much higher in countries like New Zealand, where binge and hazardous use of alcohol is prevalent".

FASD is the term used to describe the impacts on the brain and body of babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. It is a lifelong disability. People with FASD, and their whaanau, may experience challenges in their daily living and need support to reach their full potential. Each individual with FASD is unique and has areas of both strengths and challenges.

Drinking in pregnancy occurs across all groups but the population of South Auckland are at increased risk of alcohol harm due to increased availability and marketing of alcohol in their community.

"Women who could be pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, or are pregnant, can prevent FASD by not drinking alcohol", says Dr Porteous.

FASD is 100% preventable; alcohol-free pregnancies or stopping drinking will help give babies a healthy start to life.

Health professionals can help patients make informed decisions by having conversations about their alcohol consumption. The Alcohol ABC approach is a good tool for health professionals to use to guide this conversation.

"Partners, friends and whaanau can also support pregnant women to be alcohol-free", says Luisa Silailai, Alcohol Harm Minimisation Advisor at CM Health. "They can support pregnant women by offering non-alcoholic drinks at events, discouraging others to offer them alcohol and even by joining them in being alcohol-free."

Women and their whaanau who need support to stop drinking can talk to their midwife, doctor, or free text or call 1737 for support. Access for community support or information on FASD.

Animation - Check out our animation on FASD and how you can encourage each other to prevent this.

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