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Fetal Alcohol Awareness Minute

9 September 2001 Media Statement
9th month, 9th hour, 9th minute - Fetal Alcohol Awareness minute


There is no safe level of alcohol consumption for a woman when she is carrying a child, says Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.

"Women need to be made fully aware of the potential consequences of drinking while pregnant, or planning pregnancy, because of the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

"Women should not drink any alcohol while pregnant, planning to conceive, or breastfeeding. There is a myth that drinking while pregnant is unhealthy for the baby, the truth is that, it is very dangerous for the baby.”

This Sunday to promote International Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day, a minute of silence is observed. It is observed on the 9th minute of the 9th hour of the 9th month, every year, all around the world. The first awareness minute was established at 9.09am, 9/09/1999.

"I am keen to make progress on addressing the FAS and FAE in our communities. A television documentary will be screened, on 17 September 2001 to raise public awareness, and health education resources for young people are being developed.

“FAS and FAE are totally preventable. My hope is that as we all become aware of the risks and learn how to prevent these conditions from occurring. Other areas for action are improving diagnosis, prevalence research and providing the support and care families need.”

FAS is characterised by low birth weight and retarded physical growth, facial malformation, and central nervous system dysfunction. FAE contributes to more subtle forms of impairment, in particular, learning difficulties.

The rate of FAS is estimated at 2-3 of every 1,000 live births and 4-5 per 1,000 for FAE. These rates are higher than most other birth disorders, like Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy.

"We have the ability within our communities to support women and their families lead healthy lifestyles", Tariana Turia said.

Ends

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