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Pregnancy and Alcohol


Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a combination of physical and mental birth defects. The term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is used to describe this range of effects. There is no safe time or amount to drink alcohol during pregnancy. It is safest not to drink any alcohol at all and to stop drinking before you get pregnant.

FASD effects include:

  • Brain damage which can result in difficulties with learning, remembering, and thinking things through.
  • Speech and language difficulties.
  • Vision and hearing difficulties.
  • Behavioural problems and poor social skill development.
  • Malformation of bones and limbs.
  • Organ malformation

FASD is Preventable.

How Common is FASD?

Although there are no national data on the incidence of FASD, it is believed to be the leading cause of preventable birth defects and developmental delay among Canadian children. The national rate is estimated at 1 per 100 live births, making it the largest incidence of any major birth defect in Canada.

Source: FAS Community Resource Center, 2005

Where Can I Get Help?

  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Caregiver Support Group
This group provides a safe environment for families or caregivers of individuals with FASD to discuss experiences, develop skills to manage their needs, support other community members, and share resources. For information or cancellations, call 519-587-2441 Ext. 350. Meet the first Monday of the month from 10 am to 12:00 p.m. at Haldimand-Norfolk Reach, 101 Nanticoke Creek Parkway, Townsend.


Supporting Families Living with FASD in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties

In September 2012, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit interviewed a local Haldimand family about living with FASD. The video is for educational purposes only and can be accessed on the Health Unit’s YouTube channel.

Related Resources