Frequent Questions and Answers

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term that describes the full range of harm that is caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. If a developing baby is exposed to alcohol, the baby may have:

  • Brain damage
  • Vision and hearing difficulties
  • Bones, limbs and fingers that are not properly formed
  • Heart, kidney, liver and other organ damage
  • Slow growth

Brain damage means that a child may have serious difficulties with:

  • Learning and remembering
  • Thinking things through
  • Understanding consequences
  • Getting along with others
  • Life skills
  • Regulating their emotions

 

  • About 62% of pregnancies are unplanned and confirmed at about 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy.
  • The safest choice is no alcohol if there is chance of pregnancy or as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed. 
  • If you think you could be pregnant, visit your health care provider.
  • If unable to stop, reduce how much alcohol you drink if there is chance of pregnancy or as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed. 
  • Start prenatal care early.
  • Call Motherisk Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline at 1-877-327-4636 if you have questions about your alcohol use.
  • Talk to a health care provider about your alcohol use and ask about support and services in your region.

 

  • The safest choice is no alcohol if there is chance of pregnancy or as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed. 
  • If unable to stop, reduce how much alcohol you drink if there is chance of pregnancy or as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed. 
  • Start prenatal care early.
  • Talk to a health care provider about your alcohol use and ask about support and services in your region to support you.

It is OK to ask for help. Consider:

There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. A baby’s brain is developing throughout pregnancy. The safest choice is no alcohol at all. In fact, it is best to stop drinking before pregnancy.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy. It is best not to drink any alcohol during your pregnancy.

There are no types of alcohol less harmful than others. Any type of alcohol (beer, coolers, wine or liquor) can harm a developing baby. Binge drinking and heavy drinking are particularly harmful to an unborn baby.

There’s no cure. FASD is a lifetime problem. Teens or adults with FASD may have:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble with the law
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Difficulty living on their own
  • Trouble keeping a job

There are many things teachers and parents can do to help children with FASD. Early intervention services may be helpful to reduce some of the effects of FASD.

A secure stable supportive home environment is also something that has been shown to improve the life of a person with FASD.

If the father drinks alcohol, it will not cause FASD. However, partners should also try to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

A partner has a role in supporting and encouraging an alcohol-free pregnancy by:

  • Taking a break from alcohol
  • Offering non-alcoholic drinks
  • Asking how you can help
  • Participating in activities that do not involve alcohol
  • Knowing where to go for help and support if needed

Partners, family, friends and the community can help to encourage an alcohol-free pregnancy.

Before pregnancy:

  • Talk about FASD
  • Take a break from alcohol
  • Offer non-alcoholic drinks
  • Be supportive and encouraging
  • Participate in activities that do not involve alcohol
  • Ask how you can offer help and support
  • Help to reduce sources of stress
  • Know where to go for help and support if needed
  • Use and encourage effective birth control while addressing alcohol use

During pregnancy:

  • Offer non-alcoholic drinks
  • Get together in people’s homes or at coffee shops rather than in bars
  • Know that there is no known safe level of alcohol, no safe kind of alcohol at any time
  • Ask how you can offer help and support

If it’s difficult to stop drinking:

  • Encourage less drinking   
  • Discuss the options together
  •  Respect individual choices

Use effective birth control while addressing alcohol use.

Refer to: It’s a plan – Helping you make decisions about contraception

Some people need help to stop drinking. It is OK to ask for help. Consider: