TORONTO, CANADA – Experts Will Examine Canadian Strategies For Ideas To Improve FASD Awareness Around The World.
The world’s leading teratology experts at MotherToBaby USA and Motherisk Canada, members of the international non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), will converge with the European Network of Teratology Information Services (ENTIS) in Toronto on September 19th – 21st to share breakthrough research and discuss how to prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Since the sensitivity to alcohol varies from one pregnancy to the next, no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy has been established. The exposure to the fetus can result in a range of neurobehavioral disabilities, now known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Globally, September is commemorated as FASD Awareness Month.
“FASD is the leading cause of developmental disability in Canada and this area of research is critical,” said Gideon Koren, MD, FRCPC, director of the Motherisk program at The Hospital For Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto and program host of this year’s conference. “When prenatal alcohol exposure affects as many as one in 100 babies to some degree, FASD really should be considered more than a problem… it’s a health crisis,” he added.
It’s been more than 40 years since Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, OTIS and MotherToBaby’s president, along with David Smith, MD, first identified Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) after examining several children with similar traits who had all been born to chronic alcoholic mothers, yet there is still misinformation circling the globe about prenatal alcohol exposure.
“Studies, primarily out of Europe, suggesting that low to moderate levels of alcohol during pregnancy are safe add to one of the biggest health challenges today,” said Jones. “Learning from each other is an obvious and important focus of the conference.”
Jones acknowledges that Canada is farther ahead of most of the world in its awareness of FASD and is, as a result, a fitting host for the international joint meeting with ENTIS, which only takes place every four years. “There are important things about intervention strategies, providing services to underserved populations and getting certain professional groups such as the Canadian Bar Association involved that can be learned from the Canadians.”
Despite this progress and the well-documented spectrum of negative physical and mental effects alcohol can have on the developing fetus, as many as 15% of Canadian women report drinking during pregnancy, according to The Society Of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists of Canada.
Motherisk Canada is home to the Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise (FACE) Research Network, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary on September 17th at SickKids and will feature Jones as the keynote speaker.
All North Americans can be connected with experts through the MotherToBaby and Motherisk programs. Women can receive personalized risk assessments regarding alcohol, medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding toll-free at MotherToBaby 1-866-626- 6847 and Motherisk 1-877-439-2744.
Help spread the word about preventing FASD by sharing the following PSA link.
Media Contact: Nicole Chavez, 619-368-3259, nchavez@MotherToBaby.org.