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New Study highlights importance of FASD Awareness Day

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Alcohol Healthwatch says more New Zealand women need to know that any amount of alcohol is a risk to the healthy outcome of their baby. A study just released from the University of Auckland shows that even low alcohol exposure can negatively affect normal child development, often before the pregnancy is detected.1

Fetal Alcohol Network New Zealand (FANNZ) coordinator, Alcohol Healthwatch’s Christine Rogan says that this is concerning given that The Growing Up in New Zealand Study collected data in 2010 and hazardous drinking has increased among women since then. In the five years from 2011-2016, there has been a 43 percent increase in the prevalence of women being classified as hazardous drinkers. More women are drinking more hazardously so we must address our wider drinking culture and at the same time do more to support women to have alcohol-free pregnancies.

"This study strengthens public health advice to not drink alcohol at any time during pregnancy or if there is a risk of being pregnant. Education on its own is known to be insufficient but questions must be asked why so little is being done to support women to know why it is important to have alcohol-free pregnancies," said Ms Rogan.

Sunday, (9 September) is World FASD Awareness Day. The aim of this day is to have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy, more widely recognised, prevented and supported.

"Everyone participating in FASD Awareness Day is invited to share in a ‘Moment of Reflection’ at 9:09 am - 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 have a healthy baby - and to reflect on those already living with fetal alcohol disorder (FASD)," Ms Rogan said.

"People need to understand the link between drinking during pregnancy and the difficulties this can lead to as children grow up. We are concerned about binge drinking but clearly what this New Zealand study shows, is there is no amount of alcohol that is safe for a developing baby.

"We know many pregnancies are unplanned pregnancies and that the risk of alcohol exposure during pregnancy is high, so we want all our young people to understand the risk and be supported in a non-judgemental way. We have to look at measures to reduce the normalisation of this neuro-toxic substance, being so heavily promoted as essential for socialisation. It is an attitude that is harming our children."

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