Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Today marks the beginning of an important national awareness campaign about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. I have been advocating for more recognition and understanding of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, known as FASD, for many years. I am thrilled to finally see this campaign realised from today.
The message is simple. It tells women and the people around them that every moment and every drop matters when you are pregnant. Many people, including some health professionals, think that the occasional drink won't hurt, but the truth is that any alcohol can hurt a developing baby. The more a mother drinks, at any stage of pregnancy, the greater the risk of alcohol crossing the placenta and causing devastating lifelong damage. This is the condition known as FASD. It is not well understood in our communities but it can have a massive impact on a person's health and, of course, their life. There is no treatment. Prevention is the only cure. This is why we need an awareness campaign and why we have the awareness campaign kicking off from today, to ensure people know of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.
I desperately hope it cuts through to those who need to hear this message, and I congratulate everyone who has made it happen: FARE, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education; NOFASD Australia; and the federal government for their financial support. We all have a part to play in fighting FASD. We fight it by informing and supporting women—informing them of the risks; supporting them without judgement—to make the healthy choice not to drink during pregnancy, and supporting them to make the moment that they start trying for a baby the moment that they stop drinking, because every moment matters.