Statement from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children and Youth
On this Sept. 9, as we mark Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day, it is my sincere hope that British Columbians will take the time to stop and reflect. The date is significant. The ninth day of the ninth month of the year was chosen as international FASD Awareness Day to represent the critical nine months of pregnancy – the time when a mother must abstain from alcohol to protect her unborn baby.
The fact is that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can seriously harm an unborn child and create a lifelong disability. But as devastating as FASD is, it is also entirely preventable.
What can we do to break the cycle and ensure that FASD is relegated to the history books? I believe it is worth considering this as a collective problem affecting society at large rather than as an individual one. Why? Because when anyone’s potential is reduced due to FASD, it affects us all in ways that are impossible to measure, so it is fitting that each of us gives serious consideration to solutions.
Why do some mothers-to-be drink during pregnancy? How can we help them not to? It’s not as simple as telling mothers not to drink. The problem is complex and there is no single answer that will apply to everyone, but I strongly believe that education, support, and compassion will go a long way to helping us, as a society, overcome the problem of FASD. Effectively dealing with this disorder requires that we learn about it and support expectant mothers as well as those living with FASD.
Awareness is an important starting place. On this FASD Awareness Day, let’s hold fast to a vision of a time when FASD is distant memory.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond