Professor: FASD support needed in Saskatchewan
More support is needed for women who are at risk of giving birth to a baby with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
That's the message coming from Dr. Caroline Tait, associate professor at the department of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan. Tait says awareness about FASD is teaching people that alcohol harms a fetus and that prevention strategy is working well.
However, FASD isn't normally affecting healthy women who have a few drinks before they know they are pregnant.
“We don’t need to worry about those women,” said Tait.
“The women that we need to worry about are the binge drinkers and we need to worry about women who have substance abuse problems.”
She says sometimes it's hard for women to know if they are pregnant when they are abusing drugs or alcohol.
“You can’t differentiate maybe the symptoms of morning sickness from the symptoms of being hungover,” she said.
Eunice Bergstrom is with the CUMFI Wellness Centre in Saskatoon. The organization provides support for people living with FASD.
Bergstrom says the disability can be hard on the parents, especially as their child becomes an adult.
“If you have a child with FASD, well, you’re on call for the rest of your life probably,” she said.
Bergstrom says most of the people the organization mentors are homeless and impoverished. They struggle with budgeting and relationships. They often are taken advantage of and fall onto the wrong side of the law because they have difficulty understanding consequences.
Tait says women who have a drinking problem need more family planning support, especially mothers who have given birth to children with FASD.
“They are the highest risk group to have another child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,” she said.
Tait says we need to wrap services around those women but Saskatchewan hasn't reached that point.
Canada currently does not record how many people are living with the disability but it is estimated that Saskatchewan has 9,600 cases.
Sept. 9 is International FASD Awareness Day.
Follow on Twitter: @karinyeske