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Choose an alcohol-free pregnancy, bar patrons urged

Ashleigh Hedges advertising alcohol free pregnancy

The individual in the photo, proudly wearing one of the ‘No Safe Type, No Safe Time, No Safe Amount’ buttons, is Ashleigh Hedges, a staff member at the Turkey Point Hotel.

SIMCOE, AUGUST 19, 2011-The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is partnering with a local restaurant and bar to remind patrons that if a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy she is putting her baby at risk of permanent brain damage.

Patrons at the Turkey Point Hotel throughout the summer are receiving napkins which read “no safe type, no safe time, no safe amount” in an effort to raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), as well as to advise women of the harms of alcohol use during pregnancy. The hotel staff will also be wearing buttons with the same message on them.

“If a woman is pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, avoiding drinking alcohol is the safest choice for giving the baby a healthy start in life,” said Lina Hassen, Substance Misuse Prevention Health Promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Friends, family and community members can all provide support for expectant women and encourage them to not drink during their pregnancy.”

FASD is combination of physical and mental birth defects that may develop in children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, FASD is the most common form of preventable brain damage to infants in North America, with approximately 300,000 individuals living with FASD in Canada.

Unfortunately, FASD cannot be cured. However, people with FASD can still do very well in life with the help of supports and services, such as special education, vocational programs, tutors, and structured environments.

Children and adults affected by FASD may have a hard time learning and controlling their behaviour. Other common challenges encountered by individuals with FASD include trouble adding, subtracting and handling money, struggles with reasoning and learning from experience, and difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions, remembering things, keeping a job and getting along with others.

“The good news is that FASD can be prevented. Alcohol use during pregnancy is the only cause for this disability,” mentioned Angela Swick, a Public Health Nurse at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “It has been great to partner with the Turkey Point Hotel, as they care about their community and want to educate women about the harms of alcohol use during pregnancy.”

The local FASD Advocacy Committee will be having an annual fundraising and awareness raising BBQ on September 9th at Zehrs in Caledonia between 11 am and 2 pm. Additional information and resources on FASD, along with creative non-alcoholic drink recipes, will be available at the BBQ, and can also be found online at www.hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Lina Hassen
Health Promoter, Population Health
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3274 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
lina.hassen@hnhu.org