The DrinkWise Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Program aims to create greater awareness among Australians around that FASD is 100% preventable.
Each year, in addition to the year-round FASD awareness activities, DrinkWise works with experts from the medical industry and well-known parents and parents-to-be in the lead up to International FASD Awareness Day on 9 September. It’s a reminder to Australians about the importance of not drinking alcohol when planning a pregnancy or when pregnant – and that it’s safest not to drink alcohol when breastfeeding.
We recognise that rates of abstinence in pregnancy are going in the right direction but there’s still more work to be done and ongoing education is critical.
International FASD Day – Friday 9 September 2022
Obstetrician Dr Vicki Carson and media personalities Fiona Falkiner and Hayley Willis lent their voices to the 2022 campaign to remind mums, mums-to-be and their support networks (partners, friends and family) that FASD is 100% preventable through abstaining from drinking alcohol. They helped to educate Australians about the importance of avoiding alcohol when planning a pregnancy or when pregnant – and that it’s safest not to drink alcohol when breastfeeding.
|Obstetrician, Dr Vicki Carson advises it’s safest to avoid alcohol all together when you’re planning a pregnancy, when you’re pregnant and when you’re breastfeeding.||To give their boys – Hunter and Spencer – the best start to life Fiona and Hayley made the simple choice – to not drink alcohol when they were planning their pregnancies, when pregnant and when breastfeeding.|
According to Obstetrician Dr Vicki Carson (nee Woodward) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD is a permanent neurological condition.
“FASD is an umbrella term for the range of physical, cognitive, behavioural and neurodevelopmental abnormalities that can affect babies who are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can reduce the size and weight of the fetal brain. It can also directly damage regions of a baby’s brain that are critical for learning, memory, behaviour, language, and decision-making. The range and severity of FASD-related conditions differ from one person to the next and the symptoms are apparent to varying degrees throughout life.
“FASD a lifelong condition but one that is 100% preventable. As an obstetrician, my advice is that there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy so it’s best to avoid alcohol completely when you’re planning a pregnancy, while you’re pregnant and while you’re breastfeeding. It really is the safest option for your baby.
“When I see a couple who already have one child affected by FASD, the most common reason is that they didn’t know to avoid or abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. And that’s just a reminder of how important this campaign is.
“We do know the importance of education and the critical role doctors and obstetricians play, which is why I encourage all my colleagues to continue to remind their pregnant patients that it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. I also encourage partners, friends and families to know about FASD too. This isn’t just an issue that women should know about. We all have a role to play in promoting healthy pregnancy choices,” said Dr Vicki Carson.
Media personality Hayley Willis and her fiancée, presenter and model Fiona Falkiner made the simple choice to not drink alcohol, when they were planning their pregnancies, when pregnant and when breastfeeding.
Fiona and Hayley are mums to two young boys – Hunter and Spencer. Both mums underwent IVF to fall pregnant, with Hayley announcing the safe arrival of Spencer in August this year. He arrived three weeks ahead of his due date. They already have a one-year-old son, Hunter, who was carried by Fiona.
“Motherhood has been fantastic! I’m enjoying the ride. Two boys under two! It’s chaotic but it’s the best kind of chaos and I love it. Whilst my eyes may look like they’re falling out of my head, I wouldn’t change it for a thing.
“Fiona didn’t drink alcohol during her IVF and pregnancy journey with Hunter and I did the same to ensure the safety of our second baby boy Spencer. We both believe giving up alcohol was an easy decision to make for the health of our children.”
“We did the research and consulted medical professionals, and it was clear – we shouldn’t be drinking,” said Hayley.
“We abstained all the way through our pregnancies and considering all the lovely chaos of life with a new baby, we just decided to continue to abstain until we finished breastfeeding,” said Fiona.
“I also thought it was beneficial for me to support Hayley by abstaining from alcohol during her pregnancy and now during her breastfeeding. I just want to give her all the support she needs, and it’s been the best for our children,” Fiona said.
“Supporting each other and educating women about important issues like FASD is paramount. We’re passionate about the health and safety of all children and we’re glad we can help spread the important but simple message to abstain from alcohol when planning a pregnancy, when pregnant and when breastfeeding,” said Fiona.
Amplifying the message.
To support International FASD Awareness Day on Friday 9 September 2022 and to ensure these important educational messages reach not just those women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, but also partners, friends and family who are supporting them, DrinkWise is also working with:
– one of the most well-known parenting websites in Australia – to amplify this important education message.
– the Indigenous music and health promotion radio program to create a special FASD themed episode. Hosted by Naomi Wenitong the Jam Pakt FASD episode will feature well known and inspirational Indigenous people.
– education programs and medical centers to provide the DrinkWise pregnancy and alcohol brochure and videos for use (free of charge).
Backed by Research
As an evidence-based organisation, DrinkWise relies on key independent research and clinical advice to underpin our campaigns and programs.
The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol (‘the Guidelines’) from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advise that to prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
In 2022, DrinkWise commissioned Quantum Market Research to assess changes since the baseline set of measures of Australians’ attitudes towards drinking alcohol when planning a pregnancy, during a pregnancy or while breastfeeding, which was conducted in 2018. The key new findings from the DrinkWise Alcohol and Pregnancy Study 2022 that featured in the 2022 FASD Awareness campaign include:
DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan acknowledged that while rates of abstinence in pregnancy and attitudes towards avoiding alcohol in pregnancy were going in the right direction there is a lot more to be done. “It’s great that more and more Australian women are understanding that they shouldn’t be consuming alcohol if they are planning a pregnancy or pregnant and that it’s safest not to drink alcohol when breastfeeding, but it is critical that we continue campaigns that can help deliver this important health message. DrinkWise is committed to educating the community that FASD is 100% preventable, to help look after our next generation of children,” Strahan said.
Ongoing education is critical.
Since the start of the FASD Awareness Program DrinkWise has partnered with medical experts and celebrity / influencers to develop tailored materials to better engage with audiences throughout Australia. Funding for these important educational materials has come from the Federal Government and DrinkWise contributors.
Extended versions of many of these videos have been produced for school programs, to educate students about FASD, peer influence and the importance of not drinking alcohol before they turn 18. Many of these resources, including the DrinkWise pregnancy and alcohol brochure and videos, are available for use in medical centres and for education programs (free of charge). If you’d like to use these resources in your programs please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for more information
For more information about alcohol when planning a pregnancy, when pregnant or when breastfeeding please talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife, or visit: