Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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"HOPE...Whatever point a woman can stop or reduce her drinking in pregnancy, there is hope for her to have a healthier child.

RESPECT...For the abilities of those individuals affected by FASD...For the knowledge of those parenting individuals with FASD...For communities in their efforts to address FASD.

UNDERSTANDING...Being aware of our own attitudes and values  and being open minded....By educating ourselves about FASD and new research....By being sensitive to the impact of diagnosis on an individual, a family and a community.

COMPASSION...By being sensitive to the needs of individuals and families impacted by FASD and focusing on strengths....By being sensitive to the situations of women with alcohol and drug problems.

COOPERATION...By recognizing the importance of building partnerships within communities and working together to support families."

FACT: alcohol is a teratogen, which is any agent or chemical substance that causes birth defects.

Teratogens can cause death, malformations, growth deficiencies, and functional deficiencies. Alcohol can cause all four of these to happen. Researchers (Dumas and Rabe, 1994) have found that a "single embryonic exposure of a teratogenic dose of alcohol produced a deficit in long term memory."  Alcohol causes more serious neurological damage to the unborn baby than all illict drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana: Institute of Medicine, 1996. Alcohol is a legal drug, and it is the most frequently used drug throughout the world.

FACT: when a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes through the placenta to the fetus.




As a pregnant mother drinks, the concentration of alcohol in her unborn baby rises. Because of the difference in body size, one drink for a pregnant mother is like several drinks for a fetus. Alcohol will remain in the unborn baby's system longer than in its mother's because the unborn baby is not able to eliminate alcohol as quickly as its mother.

Alcohol affects the unborn baby's growing and developing body and brain. Alcohol reaches the fetus' liver, pancreas, kidneys, thymus, heart, and brain. Alcohol can interfere with metabolism, hormonal balance, and/or the baby's oxygen. All of this can cause the birth defects associated with FASD. 

FACT: because the fetus' immature organs break down alcohol much slower than the mature organs of an adult, the alcohol level of the fetus' blood can be even higher than that of the mother's and can stay elevated longer.

Babies born with FASD or ARBD become children with FASD and ARBD and grow up to be adults with FASD and ARBD. FASD and ARBD are permanent and lifelong. If pregnant women do not drink alcohol during their pregnancy, they will not have a child with FAS/ARBD. Note: ARBD means Alcohol-Related Birth Defects.

FACT: there is no know safe amount of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant!





When you drink....

  • alcohol enters your bloodstream through the tissues in your mouth and throat
  • alcohol also enters your bloodstream through your stomach and small intestine
  • alcohol is dispersed from your bloodstream throughout your body to fluids, organs and brain.

Effects of Alcohol....

Brain: The flow of oxygen to the brain is reduced. this results in impaired judgment, speech, and thought processes. Large amounts of alcohol can result in brain damage, unconsciousness, or death.

Liver: Most of the alcohol is eliminated from the body in the liver. Over time, alcohol damages the liver and prevents it from working properly and efficiently. This makes the liver susceptible to diseases.

Heart: Heart reate and blood pressure  are increased. This causes the heart to work harder than normal. Arteries that supply blood to the heart are constricted or squeezed. This decreases oxygen to the heart and may contribute to an irregular heartbeat.

Stomach: The stomach lining is irritated. This can result in vomiting. Repeated irritation may cause stomach ulcers.

Kidneys: Kidneys are prevented from maintaining fluid balance in the body.

FACT: alcohol is called a depressant because it depresses or slows down, your body and its functions.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder & Child Nutrition Program is funded through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

FASD/Child Nutrition Links:

Information on Folic Acid - Folic Acid  

For moms and their babies - Motherisk  

Health Canada - Children and Healthy Eating  

Today's Parent - Magazine

International FASD Awareness Day - Link

Thunder Bay District Health Unit - Lots of Information!