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Global Message To Prevent Harm From Drinking During Pregnancy

Today marks World FASD Awareness Day; a day to take a pause and reflect on how we are supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and those affected by FASD in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Everyone participating in FASD Awareness Day globally, is invited to share in a ‘Moment of Reflection’ at 9:09am - the ninth minute, of the ninth hour, of the ninth day, of the ninth month ­– to symbolise the nine months of pregnancy in which to grow a healthy baby - and to reflect on those who are already living with FASD and need our help,” Ms Rogan, FASD Coordinator at Alcohol Healthwatch, says.

In New Zealand, it is estimated that half of all pregnancies are exposed to alcohol. There is no safe time nor amount of alcohol exposure that is considered safe for the developing fetus.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the diagnostic term used to describe the impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. It is estimated that between 600 and 3000 babies are born with FASD in New Zealand each year.[1]

FASD is a lifelong, preventable disability. Each individual with FASD is unique and has areas of both strengths and challenges. They are likely to experience challenges in their daily living, needing support with learning, emotional regulation, physical and mental health and social skills. Associated difficulties extend to the families and caregivers, who commonly express daily challenges and distress raising their loved ones with FASD, often with little to no support.

There are many exciting events taking place throughout the country to mark FASD Awareness Day, including free wānanga, picnics, webinars and launch events. More information can be found at www.actionpoint.org.nz/fasd.

“This year we also celebrate the recent decision by Australian and New Zealand Ministers to mandate visible pregnancy warning labels on all alcohol packaging and products. Pregnancy warning labels are an important part of a comprehensive approach to support alcohol-free pregnancies in Aotearoa.”

“We know that to make a positive difference we need a multi-faceted approach that supports women of child-bearing age as well as the broader community in a non-judgemental way, enabling us all to play our role in supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and protecting future generations.” Says Ms Rogan.

[1] Sellman D, Connor J. In utero brain damage from alcohol: A preventable tragedy. The New Zealand Medical Journal (Online) 2009; 122

Contact Christine Rogan, FASD Coordinator at Alcohol Healthwatch 027 446 7371

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