International FASD Awareness Day is observed every year at 9:09AM on 9 September, in recognition of the nine months of a pregnancy.
Throughout the day, Australians across the country have been showing their support by going alcohol free and raising awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
What is FASD?
FASD is an umbrella term for a range of learning, behavioural and developmental disabilities that result from prenatal alcohol exposure, and will affect those born with FASD for the rest of their lives.
FASD are the most common preventable cause of non-genetic, developmental disability in Australia. It is for this reason that one of Australia’s leading FASD experts, Dr James Fitzpatrick of the Telethon Kids Institute, says prevention is so important.
“We know that alcohol use during pregnancy can cause lifelong brain damage and a range of birth defects, but the good news is that FASD is not a complex or rare genetic disorder. We don’t need major pharmaceutical breakthroughs to prevent FASD. We can prevent FASD by not consuming alcohol during pregnancy,” says Dr Fitzpatrick.
Get involved in International FASD Awareness Day
International FASD Awareness Day is a valuable opportunity to increase the awareness of Australia’s alcohol guidelines, and the risks associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant.
Around the nation, Australians have been lending their support to the cause by going alcohol free, posting selfies to social media and starting important discussions about alcohol and pregnancy in an effort to prevent FASD.
Growing momentum across Australia
While there is still much work to be done to prevent FASD and to support people living with FASD in Australia, efforts are slowly gathering pace.
This year saw the recognition of FASD by the House of Representatives Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and NOFASD Australia establish a National Parent Advisory Group.
The Western Australian Government has funded a FASD clinic, and a recent investment from the Australian Capital Territory Government has allowed for the regional rollout of FARE’s Women Want to Know campaign to encourage health professionals to talk about alcohol and pregnancy.
2015 also saw the results of the Lililwan Project in Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia focusing on FASD in rural and Indigenous communities; the release of educational videos for Criminal Justice professionals; and the launch of a guide for primary healthcare professionals on how to best support pregnant women who use alcohol or other drugs.
An Australian FASD Diagnostic tool is being trialled across multiple clinics nationally, and recommendations are currently before the Australian Government to ensure that FASD is included in the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Social media coverage highlights
— FARE (@FAREAustralia) September 7, 2015
— AMA Media (@ama_media) September 8, 2015
— Shayne Neumann (@ShayneNeumannMP) September 8, 2015
— Leesa Vlahos MP (@LeesaVlahosMP) September 8, 2015
— FARE (@FAREAustralia) September 9, 2015