Welcome to Day 24 of our 99 Days to FASDay journey. We continue with our suggested changes to the language we use for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Today’s suggestion is on some of the messages we use for prevention. While FASD is preventable, saying it is 100% is misleading in a society that uses alcohol.
What does the Looking After Each Other say:
100% preventable oversimplifies a complex issue. While theoretically possible, totally eradicating alcohol use during pregnancy, like all other alcohol related harms such as addiction, is not a likely reality. This oversimplification removes all context in a woman’s life and defines the issue as a single, easy choice. In turn, this erodes society’s understanding and compassion for an issue with multiple factors for many women.
They even suggest we think carefully about the context and audience in which the term preventable is being used as it can have negative impacts.
As for the saying “Just one drink can cause FASD:
There is no clinical evidence that one drink during an entire pregnancy causes significant harm. There is also no clinical evidence proving lower levels of alcohol use during pregnancy to be safe.
This is why Canada supports the message that “it is safest not to drink during pregnancy”.
Click FASD Language Guide to download your own copy of the Guide.
Not in this Guide, but one phrase that is widely used is 049 … representing 0 alcohol for 9 months during pregnancy. I do like the 049 message…however there is growing evidence that the drinking the father does before conception can have an impact. I really like the simplicity of 049 – I use it – but I wonder if that needs to change?
But what about the message for fathers or mothers who have consumed alcohol? We need a message to encourage them to talk to their health care provider. Because we know outcomes are better for children and their families with early intervention and support. So much to think about.