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Sept. 9 at Simcoe Sobeys BBQ will spotlight the dangers of drinking during pregnancy

SIMCOE, ON, SEPT. 2, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is promoting a fundraising barbecue at the Simcoe Sobeys store on Sept. 9 to highlight the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the most common form of preventable brain damage to infants in North America,” said Lina Hassen, Health Promoter for the Substance Misuse Prevention Program. “If women drink when they are pregnant, they are putting their babies at risk of permanent brain damage. We’re asking everyone to take note of this health hazard as we officially mark International FASD Awareness Day on Sept. 9.”

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Advocacy Committee, of which the Health Unit is a member, is holding the barbecue fundraiser at Sobeys, 438 Norfolk St., S. in Simcoe between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Other committee members are Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, Haldimand-Norfolk Community Action Program for Children, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Haldimand & Norfolk Women’s Services, Haldimand-Norfolk REACH, Community Addictions and Mental Health Services and Canadian Mental Health Association.

“According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, FASD affects approximately one per cent of people living in Canada,” Hassen noted. “That’s 300,000 individuals living with FASD in Canada. FASD is not isolated to any specific population group. It touches all social classes and ethnic groups and exists in communities both large and small throughout Canada and the world.”

International FASD Awareness Day is observed every year on Sept. 9. The ninth day of the ninth month was chosen to illustrate that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol.
Proclamations are issued in countries, states, provinces and towns all around the world. Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska. People all around the world gather for events to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and recognize the individuals and families who struggle with FASD every day. The first FASD Day was celebrated on 9/9/99.

FASD is a combination of physical and mental birth defects that may develop in children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy. FASD symptoms vary greatly. At one end of the spectrum, children may show effects in three different areas: distinct facial characteristics, smaller in size and weight, and evidence of central nervous system damage. At the other end of the spectrum, children may show effects in one or two of the areas, but not all three.

This means children and adults affected by FASD may have a hard time learning and controlling their behaviour. For example, individuals affected by FASD may appear to learn how do to a new task one day, and then not remember the next. Other common problems include having trouble adding, subtracting and handling money, and having difficulty thinking things through, learning from experience, understanding consequences of their actions and getting along with others.

People affected by FASD often have special needs that require lifelong help. For example, they may have difficulties with paying rent and buying food, making changes in their behaviour, understanding “cause and effect,” interacting with people socially and keeping a job.

FASD cannot be cured. People live with it their entire life. However, people with FASD can still do very well with supports and services. Some examples include special education, vocational programs, tutors, structured environments and lifelong care. They can find paid work or go to school if given special assistance.

“The good news is that FASD can be prevented,” Hassen emphasized. “Alcohol use during pregnancy is the only cause for this disability. No alcohol during pregnancy is the best and the safest choice for having a healthy baby. If you are planning a pregnancy or not using reliable birth control, avoid alcohol. Remember that friends, family and community members can all help a pregnant woman not to drink during pregnancy.”More information on FASD can be found at www.hnhu.org or by calling the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3274 or 905-318-6623, Ext. 3274.
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Media contact
Lina Hassen
Health Promoter, Substance Misuse Prevention Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Phone: 519-426-6170 Ext. 3274 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3274
Email:[email protected]