There is NO SAFE AMOUNT and NO SAFE TIME to drink alcohol during pregnancy
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects and brain damage to your baby. The safest choice in pregnancy is no alcohol at all. In fact, it is best to stop drinking before you get pregnant. Any type of alcohol can harm your baby (beer, coolers, wine or spirits). Binge drinking and heavy drinking are very harmful to an unborn baby.
FASD is a major cause of preventable birth defects and the leading form of developmental delay in North America. FASD is not in itself a diagnosis.
The possible diagnoses within the range of disabilities include:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Partial FAS (pFAS)
- Alcohol-Related Neuro-developmental Disorder (ARND)
- Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
What is FASD?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term that describes the full range of harm that is caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, her baby may have:
- brain damage
- vision and hearing difficulties
- bones, limbs and fingers that are not properly formed
- heart, kidney, liver and other organ damage
- slow growth
Brain damage means that a child may have serious difficulties with:
- learning and remembering
- thinking things through
- getting along with others
Is there a safe time to drink alcohol?
There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Your baby’s brain is developing throughout pregnancy. The safest choice during pregnancy is no alcohol at all. In fact it is best to stop drinking before you get pregnant.
Is there a safe amount?
There is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. It is best not to drink any alcohol during your pregnancy.
Are some types of alcohol less harmful than others?
Any type of alcohol can harm your baby (beer, coolers, wine or liquor). Binge drinking and heavy drinking are particularly harmful to an unborn baby.
What might happen if I drink alcohol while pregnant?
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause permanent birth defects and brain damage to your baby. Many pregnancies are not planned. Having a small amount of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant is not likely to harm your baby. You can help your baby by stopping drinking.
How many people are affected by FASD?
FASD affects approximately 1% of people living in Canada. This means that there may be about 300,000 living in Canada today with FASD. People of all ages may be affected.
Do children with FASD grow out of their problems?
There are many things teachers and parents can do to help children with FASD. However, FASD is a life-long problem. Teens or adults with FASD may have:
- trouble with the law
- drug or alcohol problems
- difficulty living on their own
- trouble keeping a job
- disrupted school experiences
- inappropriate sexual behaviour
What if the father drinks alcohol?
If the father drinks alcohol, it will not cause FASD. However, fathers should also try to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.
Minimizing the risk
FASD can be prevented by following these steps.
- More than 50 per cent of pregnancies are thought to be unplanned, and, in the early stages, most women do not know that they are pregnant. If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant in the near future, do not drink alcohol. No amount or type of alcohol is considered safe.
- If you have sex and are not using birth control, avoid drinking alcohol.
- If you are worried about your alcohol use, talk to your doctor, community health nurse, midwife or healthcare provider. Your local public health unit, health centre, Friendship Centre or provincial/territorial Ministry of Health can all provide you with help, information and advice.
In preventing FASD and improving outcomes for those who live with it, no one single organization, community group or government can work alone. It is a complex disability that requires a strong commitment to working together.
How can others help?
Partners, family and friends can help pregnant women to stop drinking by being supportive and encouraging.
Where can I go for help?
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, choose not to drink any alcohol. If you are worried about your baby or want more information about FASD, call:
Motherisk 1-877-FAS-INFO (1-877-327-4636)
Your health care provider
Your local health unit
The INFOline for facts about Ministry of Health programs and services, 1-866-821-7770
Looking for Camp specifically for your child with FASD check out Camp Unity in Brantford On.
You can also get more information by visiting these websites:
Adapted from Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada