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There is no "safe" time to drink alcohol during pregnancy, the experts say.

Don't Let Your Baby Drink! Aboriginals Fight Fetal Alcohol Spectrum

ICTMN Staff
9/9/13

Aboriginals across Canada on Monday marked International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, which has occurred every September 9 since 1999.

Alcoholism is rampant among Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the U.S., as well as in Australia and New Zealand, so the issue resonates especially painfully among Natives. Recognition is held on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year so that “the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol,” proclaims the International FASD Awareness Day website.

FASD is an umbrella term describing the array of damaging, lifelong effects that excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have on a developing fetus. Among the dangers are physical and mental symptoms, learning disabilities and behavioral issues.

“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder affects far too many indigenous families in this country, and I fully support all efforts to improve awareness and preventative supports for all our families,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo in a statement encouraging Indigenous Peoples and all of Canada to push for support and prevention.

“FASD has far-reaching consequences for First Nation families and communities, including implications on child and family service agencies, education, justice and overall health and well-being,” he said. “This is just another reason why we must work together to heal as individuals and communities—to reconcile our pasts, and move forward with the courage and strength required to achieve healthier families and communities. We must work together to ensure our peoples are supported in efforts to increase awareness of the consequences of drinking during pregnancy, not only for individuals, but for whole communities. Not only must preventative supports be available to all, we also cannot forget the interventions required in communities for those already affected by FASD.”

In the city of Puvirnituq, Nunavik, church bells rang and a moment of silence was observed at 9:09 a.m. on September 9, the Nunatsiaq News reported. A 2011 survey by a researcher at Laval University found that 61 percent of Nunavik mothers drink during pregnancy and that alcohol consumption was a “major risk factor to maternal and child health” in the region, which is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec, along the Hudson Bay.

Since then, public information has reduced that number greatly, especially thanks to an initiative, the Nine Months Bonding Program, which reaches out to expectant mothers and their communities to make them aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, the Nunatsiaq News said.

"There is no known safe level of drinking while pregnant," the U.S. National Institutes of Health said in a statement to mark the day. "Women who are, who may be, or who are trying to become pregnant, should not drink alcohol."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also offers information on the issue, as does the Canadian ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Here is the Alaska Native musician Morgan Fawcett talking about the dangers of drinking while pregnant, from his own perspective living with FASD. 

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
We natives need to leave ALL alcohol & drugs alone. Not just our women folk, but ALL of our peoples need to leave this all alone. There are so many children that have been damaged genetically across Indian Country it brings me great sadness every time I see these poor children who are always going to have to be cared for by someone for the rest of their lives. Drinking this poison was not something our people ever did before the washichu's came to Turtle Island. It has caused untold destruction all across our land like nothing else has so far. It destroys whole families, harms unborn children who will never have the chance to grow up & be on their own. The Great Spirit is angry at His children who are using these things & harming the future generations of our peoples. Instead of not drinking while a woman is with child, let's not drink & do drugs at any time. It brings shame & dishonor to our families, our clans & our tribal nations in any amount. Live a life that brings honor & pride of a good way to our Creator, ancestors, tribes, clans & families my friends each & every day the Great Spirit blesses us with one more day! Our children deserve to be formed in their mother's bodies in a pure environment that is not poisoned by drugs & alcohol. Think about that my friends BEFORE you decide to bring a new life into this world.
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