THUNDER BAY – It’s been proven for years that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe during a pregnancy.
The message is mostly heeded, yet fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is still an issue across the province, especially in Northwestern Ontario, where higher rates of drinking are recorded than the provincial average.
It’s concerning, said Anita Jean, manager of health and social programs at the NorWest Community Health Centre, who on Friday joined the LCBO to launch the sixth annual FASD awareness campaign aimed at convincing women not to drink while pregnant.
“This is where people are buying alcohol and I think this is the perfect opportunity to just remind folks of the dangers of alcohol while pregnant and their responsibility to create supportive environments – offering alternatives to alcohol – to women when doing a celebration, a social event, things like that,” Jean said.
The effects of FASD are devastating, she added.
Though preventable, it causes permanent disabilities in children afflicted with it.
It’s also far too wide-ranging.
An estimated two to five per cent of babies born in Canada are currently affected by FASD, with anywhere from 4,600 to 11,600 people living with the after effects in Northwestern Ontario alone.
FASD suffers struggle with learning, memory, attention and problem solving, while also battling mental health and social interaction issues.
Phil Aune, the LCBO’s district manager for Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, said it’s important to help people make healthy decisions.
In the long run, it benefits everyone, he said.
“We hope to show people that we want everyone to do what’s right. If they make the right decisions and can change one person, it makes the whole community a better place to live,” Aune said.
The two organizations have partnered for an online contest and FASD awareness information will be available at Thunder Bay LCBO outlets.