On the ninth day of the ninth month, people around the world and in Aotearoa New Zealand will be uniting to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is a lifelong disability caused by exposure to alcohol while in the womb.
International FASD Awareness Day, on 9 September, aims to highlight the risk of alcohol harm to unborn babies as well as the lifelong challenges faced by those living with the condition.
The total number of people living with FASD in Aotearoa New Zealand is unknown as no studies have been carried out to determine the prevalence of FASD in the population. However, studies conducted in overseas contexts similar to New Zealand, would indicate that between 1,800 and 3,000 babies are born with FASD every year in New Zealand.
Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health at Toi Te Ora Public Health, says healthy development in the first 1,000 days of life from conception, provides the foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. “When it comes to alcohol, it is advised to not drink at all while pregnant as there is no known safe amount of alcohol which can be consumed during pregnancy,” he says.
“The focus on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder throughout September is an excellent opportunity for family, friends and health professionals to consider how they can support future mothers to have alcohol-free pregnancies,” says Dr de Wet.
Organisations in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts can support conversations about FASD on International FASD Awareness Day by hosting or joining an event. Event photos can be posted on social media with the hashtag #FASDmonthNZ.
FASD awareness events will be taking place around the motu throughout September. For more on some of the planned events, see here.
Read more about FASD here: