Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Toolkit

This FASD Awareness Toolkit contains information and tools to help raise awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Frequently asked questions

Q. What and when is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day?

A. FASD Awareness Day is 9th September each year. This date was chosen to symbolise the 9 months
of pregnancy.

Q. What is FASD?

A. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the term given to a range of permanent and irreversible birth defects caused by maternal drinking during pregnancy. Affected children tend to grow less well, may have physical disabilities and display a variety of learning difficulties and behavioural problems due to damage to the brain and nervous system. These problems are permanent and irreversible, they cannot be 'cured' nor do they fade with time. FASD is not well recognised in the UK but is thought to affect up to one in a hundred babies born around the world.

Q. What is the purpose of the activity?

A. The top priority is the prevention of FASD. To do this we need to be able to reach prospective mothers and their partners as soon as possible with accurate information about drinking alcohol, pregnancy and FASD.

Q. What is the desired outcome?

A. That as many people as possible understand and spread the word that alcohol and pregnancy do not mix.

Q. What are we raising awareness of?

A. We can all help prevent FASD. The more people learn about FASD, the more people can help bring about change.

Q. What evidence is there that having the occasional drink during pregnancy does any harm at all?

A. It is true that not all women who drink alcohol during their pregnancy give birth to babies who have been harmed by it. There are too many other factors to predict with certainty what alcohol use, in which pregnancies, will result in harm to the baby. If you want to be sure - the recommendation is to avoid alcohol completely.

Q. Won't this cause unnecessary alarm?

A. Research has not established a 'safe' level of alcohol intake while pregnant. What is known is that taking a 'pause' in alcohol use from conception to delivery will guarantee no alcohol related harm.

Q. How many people are affected by FASD in Scotland?

A. Current estimates[1] suggest that there are over 10,000 people (birth to 18 years) affected by FASD in Scotland.

Q. What women are you trying to reach?

A. We are trying to reach everyone, including young women who may be more inclined to binge drink, and older mums-to-be who may drink more regularly, not realising that they are pregnant at the time. That is why medical advice is to avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. You do not have to be a woman, or a health professional, to play a constructive and important role in raising awareness and preventing alcohol related birth defects.

Q. Isn't it true that the critical time is during the first 3 months of pregnancy?
Is is okay to drink after that?

A. Binge drinking during the first 3 months of pregnancy is thought to be particularly harmful; this is the time when facial features and body organs are developing. However, the baby's brain develops throughout pregnancy so drinking alcohol at any time, not necessarily binge drinking, could cause damage.

Q. How can a couple of glasses of wine cause the type of damage described above?

A. Alcohol can interfere with normal development as a baby grows from conception to birth. This can cause a range of damage, or none at all. Factors such as the strength and amount of alcohol consumed, the developmental stage that is disrupted when exposure occurs, maternal genetics and metabolism can all affect the outcome.


Email: Gillian Heavie

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