Message from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month

Statement

September 26, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month is observed every  September to raise awareness about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, highlight prevention and support efforts, and encourage individuals to learn more about FASD and its impacts.

FASD is a lifelong disorder caused by prenatal alcohol exposure that can affect brain and body development, making it the leading cause of preventable developmental disabilities in Canada. While there is no cure, services and supports play an important role in preventing FASD. Not drinking alcohol, in any amount and at any point during or when planning a pregnancy, is the only way to fully prevent FASD.  

The Government of Canada continues to advance action on FASD awareness, prevention, diagnosis, and intervention through the FASD National Strategic Projects Fund (NSPF), allocating $1.5 million annually. This work is especially relevant now given evidence that some Canadians have increased their alcohol consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the government officially recognized September as FASD Awareness Month. Around the world, September 9 has also been recognized as FASD Awareness Day, since 1999. The theme for 2022 is Building Strengths and Abilities, recognizing that while much of the research and discussion about FASD has focused on challenges, it is also important to recognize people's unique talents, abilities and interests.

Unfortunately, FASD is not always well understood by the wider community. That’s why raising awareness is key. Strengthening data collection and research, and supporting the adoption of national diagnostic guidelines, can also help to ensure that people with FASD get the support they need.

Individuals with FASD can also face many mental health challenges, which can include anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as difficulties with substance use, among others. Early and appropriate support can improve mental health outcomes for people with FASD, enhance their quality of life, and allow them to reach their full potential.     

If someone you know is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you can support them by going alcohol-free with them, encouraging them not to drink alcohol, and planning non-alcoholic activities.

Many activities have been taking place across Canada throughout this awareness month. The government is committed to continuing to work with partners to help raise awareness on this important issue. You can support those living with FASD and encourage healthy pregnancies by learning more about the condition and the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
343-552-5568

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

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