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I think about you every day. I wonder where we'll be living, how we'll feel, if I'll be stressed or relaxed, what kind of parents we'll be. I think about all of the things I want to teach you and show you. I think about seeing the world through your eyes and giving you all of the love I have that's been waiting for you.

Right now we are planning the wedding, I'm working 2 jobs, and we just moved to North Vancouver. Sometimes when I fall asleep at night I think about you laying beside me, and think about what my life will be like when my focus is on taking care of you and loving you, rather than all of these other things that keep me busy. I wonder if you'll look more like me or your dad. I had a dream years ago about a little girl with blonde hair and I wonder if that's you.

I hope that you are already here when I read this, and maybe you're in my arms, or maybe your daddy is holding you and looking at you with love in his eyes.

Drinking at Conception Boosts Diabetes Risk for Baby

Ed. Note - research has shown that prenatal alcohol exposure can result in any kind of malformation, mental disability, up to and including death.

from EFAN edmontonfetalalcoholnetwork
Drinking at conception boosts diabetes risk for baby: UQ studyBabies conceived by women who drink alcohol around the time of conception face dramatically increased risks of type 2 diabetes and obesity in early middle age, a University of Queensland study has found.

The discovery was made by School of Biomedical Sciences scientist Associate Professor Karen Moritz during research into how events – particularly alcohol consumption – before and during pregnancy affect the long-term health of offspring.

Using a laboratory rat model, Dr Moritz and PhD student Ms Emelie Gardebjer discovered that the equivalent of five standard drinks consumed around the time of conception altered the development of the foetus.

"Before the egg implants, before any organs start to develop, alcohol consumption somehow causes changes to the embryo," Dr Moritz said.

"Anything that affects foetal development can cause long-term programming, which means offspring can be born with increased risk and susceptibility to disease later in life.

"Monitoring the offspring of the laboratory rat model, we found the risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes in early middle age dramatically increased.

"The usual risk factors of these two diseases are attributed to poor diet and lack of exercise, but our research showed exposure to alcohol around conception presents a risk similar to following a high-fat diet for a major proportion of life."

Dr Moritz said the study was particularly important as 50 per cent of pregnancies in Australia were unplanned.

"Although most women stop drinking once they discover they are pregnant, a significant proportion are consuming alcohol at the time of conception, before they even know," she said.

"Our future research will be focusing on the possibility of administering preventative interventions.

"One possibility is giving some type of nutrient to the mother, even in later pregnancy, to see if the changes caused by the early alcohol exposure can be prevented, and in turn prevent the possible long-term disease outcomes for offspring."

The research is published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.


The Case for Fetal-Cell Research



JULY 30, 2015


Boston — We first acquired the stem cells from the red receptacles of a local hospital’s labor and delivery ward, delivered to our lab at the University of Southern California. I would reach into the large medical waste containers and pull out the tree-like branches of the placenta, discarded after a baby had been born. Squeezing the umbilical cord that had so recently been attached to new life, the blood, laden with stem cells, would come dripping out.

But sometimes a different package would arrive at our lab. Despite my distaste for wringing placentas, I felt more squeamish about what lay inside the unassuming white box. Packed in the ice was a crescent-shaped sliver of dark red tissue: a human liver. Just like the placentas that were discarded after birth, this tissue was originally destined for medical waste following an abortion.

Although their fates were similar, their origins couldn’t be more different. One source was the byproduct of celebration, the other a procedure often marked with stigma and shame. While under the bright focus of the microscope the cells we isolated were indistinguishable, in our minds there was a significant difference.

Stem cell science is a big deal in California, thanks to the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a state agency that has allocated almost $2 billion in research grants since 2004 (federal funding is still highly restricted). To meet the demand for cells, researchers turned to a procedure protected by federal law: abortions. The discarded tissue from terminated pregnancies, performed up to 26 weeks in California, is a rich source of stem cells.

But only certain fetal cells are useful. While embryonic stem cells, derived from fertilized eggs, can give rise to any cell that makes up the body, as fetal cells develop from the embryo they become committed to specific cell lineages. The liver and thymus, for instance, are packed with the precursor cells to the immune system, while the brain contains neural cells that form the nervous system.

To meet the need for these precursor cells, biotech companies form an essential middleman between tissue donated from abortion clinics and the research labs that need it. They ensure that informed consent is obtained, harvest the organs, in some cases isolate and purify the cells and then ship them out to laboratories. There are profits to be made by such middlemen in what critics call the abortion industry. A fetus runs upward of $850, not including testing, cleaning or shipping charges, while a vial packed with pure stem cells can fetch more than $20,000.

The use of fetal tissue in research is not new. Fetal cells extracted from the lungs of two aborted fetuses from Europe in the 1960s are still being propagated in cell culture. They’re so successful that today we still use them to produce vaccines for hepatitis Arubella,chickenpox and shingles. From two terminated pregnancies, countless lives have been spared.

It isn’t just vaccines. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have injected neural stem cells into two patients to treat their spinal cord injuries. And progress is being made in the use of stem-cell therapies against cancerblindness, Alzheimer’s, heart disease,H.I.V. and diabetes.

As impressive as this is, for critics the lives saved cannot make up for those that have been lost. And as important as I believe my research was, I sympathize with that sense of loss, even after leaving the lab for Boston.

Every week when the plain white FedEx box was delivered, uneasiness permeated the lab. We all knew that the tissues contained within were precious. We planned our experiments meticulously, trying not to waste a single drop. We rationalized using the cells by telling one another that the abortions would happen regardless of whether we used the tissue for research. And we knew that if we didn’t use the tissue it was bound for the trash.

Still, even with our preparations, justifications and the sheer excitement that accompanied our research, the fetal cells brought sadness. We wished we didn’t have them, despite the breakthroughs.

Perhaps this is why it was difficult to hear Dr. Deborah Nucatola,Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discuss the organs of aborted fetuses so casually in surreptitiously recorded conversations with anti-abortion activists posing as fetal-tissue buyers. It’s understandable that politicians, angered by her callous tone, are investigating how fetal tissue is handled and how research is conducted, despite the strict institutional review that governs the use of anatomical tissue donated for research.

Politicians aren’t the only ones looking for answers. Scientists are searching for alternatives to fetal cells. One solution may lie in reprogramming adult cells, creating what researchers call induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells share the ancestral adaptability of embryonic stem cells, yet can also be manipulated to look and act like fetal stem cells.

And yet, every time I worked with a fetal liver, I imagined that somewhere in California a woman had made the agonizing, heartbreaking decision to end her pregnancy. Yet she had also donated her aborted fetus to medical research. I thought of this as I isolated the golden-tinged cells inside the vent hood. A promise had been made; these cells were not simply trash. The choice I made is repeated every day, in labs all over the world. Researchers have no say in whether a fetus is aborted or develops into a human baby; those decisions are made by women and shaped by politicians. Yet their science, performed on discarded tissue, has the ability to save lives. It already has.

Nathalia Holt, a microbiologist, is the author of “Cured: The People Who Defeated HIV” and the forthcoming book “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us From Missiles to the Moon to Mars.”

IWK Health Centre refused to admit teen with mental health problems

CBC news
Canada - NS [Nova Scotia]

IWK Health Centre refused to admit teen with mental health problems, mother says

Lily Morinville, 14, arrested shortly after family told to take her home
Jun 08, 2015

A Nova Scotia family is speaking out after they were turned away by a children's hospital after seeking mental health care for their teen daughter.

Not only did Halifax's IWK Health Centre refuse to admit 14-year-old Lily Morinville — she was then arrested after being kicked out by security.

Vicky and Sylvain Morinville have a busy home, with seven children and five grandchildren.

Their daughter Lily has a number of developmental disabilities. In the last few months her parents say she's become aggressive with them and the other children.

"She will pinch, she will hit, she will slap, she will shove, push us," said Vicky Morinville.
On Sunday night things came to a head and the family took Lily to the IWK Health Centre, which is known for its mental health wing for young people. But Lily was turned away.

"[She was] deemed not a risk to herself or anyone else, and so I was told that I could take her home — that I needed to take her home," her mother said.

As she tried to convince her daughter to come home, Lily ran back inside and was removed by security.

Family friend Amy Spurway, who arrived at one point to help handle Lily, said the family feared she would hurt herself or others.

"We realized that we couldn't leave the IWK, because it was absolutely not safe to try and take Lily home. This family could not go another day with Lily in this state. She was posing a pretty clear danger to herself and the people around her," said Spurway.

'Acting in a violent manner'

A bystander and security then called the police, who arrested Lily for breaching the peace.

Const. Pierre Bourdages, spokesman for the Halifax Regional Police, said the girl was "acting in a violent manner" and had assaulted officers.

Officers kept Lily under observation at the police station, and according to Bourdages became "concern[ed] that this young lady may be a danger to herself."

She was re-arrested under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act around 10 p.m. Sunday and taken back to the IWK for reassessment. She was finally admitted on Monday, a little less than 24 hours after first going to the emergency room.

Bourdages said there are no pending charges.

Receiving care

The Morinvilles are speaking out in hope of helping other families who face what they say are system-wide difficulties of getting mental health care for teenagers.

"You can't be turned down just because somebody thinks it's just a... behaviour pattern," said Sylvain Morinville.

Lily remains at the hospital, but the family knows her ordeal is not over yet.

"She's certainly receiving appropriate care at this point, but for her to have to have gone through what she's gone through to receive that care? It shouldn't be happening," her mother said.

IWK spokesman Nick Cox said that specific information about a patient is never discussed in public, and that providing excellent patient care is the hospital's top priority.

Cox said emergency room patients are seen by "physicians and/or mental health clinicians" and that, after an assessment, "the most appropriate treatment plans are discussed with the patient and family members."

Call to ban booze ads during sports

AAP: Australia
June 24/15

Alcohol advertising should be banned during sports broadcasts before 8.30pm and a minimum floor price on booze should be adopted.

Those are just two of 23 recommendations a parliamentary committee has made to government it says should be urgently adopted because of the damage alcohol is doing to some indigenous communities.

The lower house standing committee on indigenous affairs says the impact of alcohol abuse on indigenous children represents a national tragedy.

Some kids are growing up in out-of-home care because their parents are in jail, while others are missing out on school, or become young drug and alcohol addicts.

Foetal alcohol syndrome is creating generations of children whose brain damage will severely affect their lives, with the prevalence of the disease in indigenous communities among the highest in the world, it says in a report on Thursday.

The committee wants the government to introduce a minimum floor price on alcohol, and consider volumetric tax as advised by the Henry Tax review.

A public awareness campaign should also be launched to highlight the risks of alcohol and guide people to get help.

The states should study where demand is rising for liquor licences, especially if it's in areas of high drinking, and adopt the licensing system of NSW.

The committee wants the communications watchdog to close the loophole that allows alcohol advertising during sports broadcasting before 8.30pm.

Alcohol sponsorship of sporting teams and events should be also banned, and in types of media where children could be influenced.

It also has urged states and territories work together to try to reduce the number of indigenous people incarcerated as a result of harmful alcohol use.

© AAP 2015

More than half of children in CFS care not ready for school

Winnipeg Free Press
June 10, 2015
Behind their classmates before they start
By Larry Kusch

Fewer than half of Manitoba children in the care of Child and Family Services are ready for school when they begin classes, and only a third will graduate from high school.

Those are two of a host of grim statistics in a new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, commissioned by the provincial government.

The centre found only 47 per cent of kids who have been apprehended by CFS agencies are ready to learn when they reach school age. That compares with 76 per cent of children who are not wards of the state.

Children in care are generally well behind in math competency by Grade 3 and in reading and writing by Grade 8.

Their graduation rate -- at 33 per cent -- is far below the 89 per cent rate for kids who have never had contact with CFS. It is also well below the rate -- 67 per cent -- for kids who have not been apprehended but still received supports from family service agencies.

The MCHP study is the first in Manitoba to measure the differences in educational outcomes across a range of ages and grades between children in care, those whose families have received services from the family services department and those who have neither been in care nor had to receive CFS services.

Education Minister James Allum responded to the report by announcing the formation of a task force to examine ways to close the achievement gap. The task force will be co-chaired by Tammy Christensen, executive director of Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc., a youth service organization, and Kevin Lamoureux, an instructor and aboriginal education expert at the University of Winnipeg.

According to the MCHP report, kids in care are seven times more likely to have a developmental disability and four times more likely to have experienced a mental disorder than kids who have had no contact with CFS, the report said.

They are also eight times more likely to have a mother who reported using alcohol or drugs during pregnancy and almost six times more likely to be from a family that received social assistance.
The report, entitled Education Outcomes of Children in Care, shows how these disadvantages translate into poorer school outcomes.

It says that even before they first attend school, more than half of kids in care are already at a disadvantage because they lack either the physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, the language and cognitive development, or communication skills and general knowledge to flourish.

The report says while it's widely known Manitoba has a large number of children in care, what is less known is the province has one of the highest apprehension rates in the world.

"This should be a major concern for Manitobans," the report says.

"High rates of children in care are an indication that effective home-based services are lacking for families in need, and that unacceptable living conditions, such as poor housing, poverty, poor parenting skills and family dysfunction are not being addressed on a broader community or societal level."

Allum said while the report dealt with many social issues children in care face before they reach school age, the task force will confine itself to coming up with ways to improve outcomes once kids are at school.

He said the province is already taking several measures to reduce poverty and provide supports to families to raise their kids.

"We want to be sure that we have the right circumstances, the right solutions, the right resources, the right supports in order that those kids have every opportunity to be successful learners and go on to live happy and productive lives," the minister said.

He said he expects the task force to submit its report by the end of the year.

Allum said it would be up to the task force to set any specific targets for improvement in educational outcomes.

Christensen said while the 131-page report contained many troubling facts, none of it was a shock to her.

"As an organization that has been working with indigenous youth for 20 years, it's something that we see day in and day out," she said.

Christensen said on the positive side, young people are quite resilient. "And I think part of our role in the task (force) is to really focus on... (how) we engage them in a process that will create better outcomes for them in the future."

Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol, BMA warn

The Telegraph [U.K.]
Tuesday 23 June 2015

British Medical Association call for stricter Government advice and “more explicit” warnings of the risks of alcohol to developing babies
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor
21 Jun 2015

(Ed. Note: British medical authorities continue to send mixed messages and fail to acknowledge that avoidance of alcohol should start when planning a pregnancy - i.e. when sexually active and not using contraception.)

Women should not drink any alcohol during pregnancy, the British Medical Association will say at its annual conference this week.

Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green, president of the BMA, called for stricter Government advice and “more explicit” warnings of the risks to the baby on bottles and cans.

But pregnancy advice groups said pregnant women were already being "scared witless" about alcohol and did not need to be worried further.

Prof Aynsley Green, the former children’s commissioner for England, said current government guidelines to women on drinking alcohol in pregnancy were “confusing”, “contradictory” and “inconsistent”.

He said they should be replaced with one recommendation - no alcohol during pregnancy - which was simpler and safer.

“It has to be concluded that there is no ‘safe’ limit for alcohol consumption during pregnancy,” he said.

The Department of Health currently warns that pregnant women should avoid alcohol. However the advice goes in to say that if they do drink, they should limit their intake to one or two units once or twice a week to minimise the risk to their baby.

In February the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued new advice saying those trying to conceive and those in the first three months of pregnancy should not drink any alcohol at all.

After this time women are advised to not drink more than one to two units, more than once or twice a week.

The college's previous guidance stated that mothers-to-be should not drink more than two units once or twice per week.

Aynsley Green, wants warnings on labels to state clearly that “alcohol can damage the health of your unborn child”. At the moment many bottles and cans carry a symbol showing the silhouette of a pregnant woman with a line through it.

Aynsley Green said plainer advice should be considered.

“On some bottles there is a very small icon with a lady with a bump. I think it should be rather more explicit than that,” he told The Sunday Times.

Professor Sheila Hollins, BMA board of science chairman, said: “We know that alcohol exposure during pregnancy can harm the unborn child. This can range from subtle damage that affects the child’s intelligence, behaviour and relationships to severe physical and learning disabilities that will have a significant impact throughout the life of the baby and of those around it.”

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol is the most common cause of all learning disabilities.

Up to 7,000 babies a year in Britain are born damaged because their mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy, doctors believe. Paediatricians and psychiatrists estimate that up to 1 per cent of babies suffer damage such as learning disabilities as a result of being exposed to alcohol in the womb.

However, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the risks to babies were often exaggerated.

Clare Murphy, director of external affairs, said: “If the guidance needs amending in any way, it is to reassure women who have had an episode of binge drinking before they found out that they were pregnant that they are extremely unlikely to have caused their baby harm . . . These women are being scared witless by current alcohol messaging.”


Taxpayers face £40m bill for babies harmed in the womb by mothers who were alcoholics

"...The [U.K.] Ministry of Justice has budgeted for 87 young claimants to get compensation worth up to £500,000 each if judges rule that the alcoholism of their pregnant mothers meant they were the victims of crimes while still in the womb..."

21 Jun 2015
[Daily Mail, U.K.]
By Martin Beckford
This case could stigmatise women’

TAXPAYERS face a bill of more than £40 million to compensate children left brain-damaged by their mothers’ heavy drinking, it can be revealed.

Official documents show the Government is braced for the massive payout if it loses a crucial court case later this year.

The Ministry of Justice has budgeted for 87 young claimants to get compensation worth up to £500,000 each if judges rule that the alcoholism of their pregnant mothers meant they were the victims of crimes while still in the womb.

The payments will be triggered if a six-year-old girl affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder wins a test case in the autumn.

The girl, who cannot be named, was left with serious birth defects including learning disabilities, facial abnormalities and growth problems. Her adoptive parents, who live with her in the south of England, have brought the case to help cover the costs of the treatment she will need throughout her life.

Lawyers will argue that the girl effectively suffered an assault akin to grievous bodily harm, such was the damage caused by her mother’s drinking while pregnant.

Neil Sugarman, of GLP Solicitors, who is acting in the case, told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘Sadly, the children and young people we represent have been terribly badly damaged by foetal alcohol syndrome. They struggle to have access to the treatment and therapies they so badly need.

‘We want them to have the chance to ask the tribunal to reconsider whether they deserve an award under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.’

The girl’s case will be held before a court called the First-Tier Tribunal in the autumn, after a previous test case failed last year.

In the earlier hearing, lawyers said a seven-year-old girl diagnosed with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – whose mother drank half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day while pregnant – had been the victim of a poisoning, a crime under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861. But judges ruled that a foetus does not constitute a person under the Victorian law. An appeal to the Supreme Court was also rejected.

Some experts believe the fresh challenge will also struggle because the law does not consider a foetus as capable of being the victim of an assault. There is an offence of ‘child destruction’, but the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 requires that either the mother or another assailant intended to kill the unborn baby and not just harm it.

However, in a sign of how serious the Ministry of Justice is taking the case, it calculated the potential cost to taxpayers within weeks of the legal papers being lodged.

In the department’s latest annual report, a section on ‘contingent liabilities’ states: ‘An appeal by an applicant against the decision of the Upper Tribunal in a tariff case concerning foetal alcohol spectrum disorder was rejected by Court of Appeal in November 2014. They requested permission to appeal from the Supreme Court… Permission to appeal was refused on April 21.

‘The representatives have now selected another test case to [argue] before the First-Tier Tribunal. This is likely to be heard in October/ November. There are 87 known cases – the minimum exposure is estimated at £26million with a maximum exposure of £43.5million.’

A spokesman for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority said: ‘The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards taxpayerfunded payments to victims who are seriously injured as a result of violent crime. Our position in relation to this fresh challenge will be informed by the recent decision of the Court of Appeal and the refusal of the Supreme Court to grant permission to appeal.’

Some campaigners and charities have opposed the compensation attempt on the grounds that it could undermine abortion rights or even lead to women being penalised for any behaviour during pregnancy that involves risk, such as eating unpasteurised cheese.

Bill Esterson, a Labour MP who is launching the first All-Party Parliamentary Group for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder this month, said: ‘I don’t support the case because it could stigmatise women. I think what’s needed is to improve education to reduce the incidence.

‘Once we start to demonise people it’s a dangerous route to go down.

‘A better use of the money would be to provide greater awareness and education, to tell children at school before it’s too late.’

Huge hike in disabled pupil figures

9 Jun 2015
The Cairns Post
EDUCATION advocates are warning of a crisis in disability education as new data suggests the number of students with special needs has doubled.
(Ed. Note: As long as governments ignore growth of FASD, the Special Ed costs will continue to spiral out of control)

A 2014 South Australian government report found that as many as one in six children now meet the new national definition of disabled.

Previous estimates have suggested only one in 12 Australian students would need extra help at school to cope with a disability.

The Federal Government has set aside $5 billion over the next four years to help schools give disabled students the extra help they need.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has said all students who meet the definition of disability will get the extra loading, so none will miss out.

But the teachers’ union says the latest information from the trial data collections reveal a crisis in disability education.

“The problem is far bigger than recognised by our current funding system,” Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said.

Students with dyslexia, hearing impairments or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder could also now count as disabled if they need long-term support with their education.

Rosenbaum discusses her new book ‘Not Exactly as Planned’


Exclusive: An Interview With Author Linda Rosenbaum
Rosenbaum discusses her new book Not Exactly as Planned which tackles the challenges of raising a child with fetal alcohol syndrome (Ed. note: Linda's book is available from FASworld - go to FASDepot to order)
By: Caitlin Marceau
Published: June 11th, 2015

If you’re looking for the next great read, then look no further. Linda Rosenbaum’s new book Not Exactly As Planned is full of heartbreak and triumph as she navigates the rocky road of adoption and raising a son with fetal alcohol syndrome. This critically acclaimed book talks about her son Michael, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and his battle with alcohol abuse long before he’s old enough to take a sip.

We at Shalom Life got a chance to speak with Rosenbaum about the inspiration for her new book, the challenges of fetal alcohol syndrome, and navigating the waters of adoption.

Shalom Life: What was the inspiration for writing Not Exactly As Planned?

Linda Rosenbaum: Over the years, people have encouraged me to write a book about our family, particularly about raising our son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). As a writer, I did have a story to tell, but I think a memoir needs a broader, more universal theme.

I knew I was not the only person whose life didn’t go exactly as once planned, and thought that by telling our family’s story, I could touch upon the feelings of hope, loss and acceptance that so many of us experience while trying to adjust to some of our unexpected realities.

I grew up in the US in the 1960s, in a time of turbulent political and social upheaval. Like many idealistic individuals in my generation, I believed that the world could be changed for the better. In later years, while raising our adopted son – diagnosed with FASD when he was six – I learned the hard truth many in my generation learned: we can’t fix all that is broken.

This was a hard reality for me to face, and one that I’ve come to learn is common for many people, not only those of us who have children with disabilities. Our challenge is to live with the reality of our lives, rather than what we may have once hoped for.

Besides the personal reasons for writing my story, I also wanted to make people more aware of FASD, the most common, yet most preventable cause of developmental disability in North America.

Most people, including many doctors and social service workers, remain unaware of FASD and the profound effects it has on individuals and their families. It’s been my hope that my book will bring comfort and hope to families struggling to raise children with FASD and other special needs, and give professionals who work with these families a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges we live with.

What was the hardest part of writing the book? And what was the most rewarding?

The most difficult part about writing the book was reliving past experiences that I would have preferred not to revisit. But I knew that the poignancy of those moments, told honestly, bring the emotional honesty and authentic drama needed to make a memoir compelling. There was no point in writing a memoir if I was going to gloss over the tough stuff. And editors can tell when you’re leaving the juicy stuff out, anyways!

One particular chapter I found rough to write was when we took Michael to the Hospital for Sick Kids to find out if there was a diagnosis to explain his many physical, emotional and behavioural problems. He was six. After a series of tests and interviews, Michael was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – brain damage caused by the alcohol his birth mother drank while pregnant with him. I could barely write a word in this chapter without crying.

Some people say it’s cathartic to write about the difficult times in your life. I personally didn’t find that to be true. I’m happy for other people that they should they be so lucky. Fortunately, I had a lot of joyous family moments to write about as well.

Another difficult part about writing the book was ensuring that my family members were comfortable that so many details of our family’s life, including the difficult ones, would become public. My husband, who has been a filmmaker his whole life, gave me complete editorial reins. Our daughter Sarah was a bit wary about me including some material, particularly about her teenage years, and I respected her wishes about what went into the book and what did not. If Sarah was truly upset about something, I left it out. My “art” will never be more important than my family.

The hardest part of the permission process was getting Michael to understand why I was writing the book, and that it would include stories about his disabilities, and how our family dealt with them. I knew Michael most likely would never read the book, because he’s not much of a reader, so it was essential to let him know in advance what it was going to be about.

I read him passages as I went along, and made sure that he knew the wonderful stuff about his many accomplishments, like his bar mitzvah, were also going into the book. Michael seemed very comfortable with the idea of the book, and once it was launched, loved the attention he was getting because of it!

The most rewarding part of writing the book has been the response. Not a day goes by that I don’t get an email from someone telling me how much the book meant to them. They all say pretty much the same thing. “I couldn’t put it down.” Above all, I wanted to write a book that was a “good read.” Of course, I’m also very touched by the many people who tell me that the book made them feel less alone, and less crazy. They realize they’re not the only ones feeling the way they do. They thank me for being so honest about my feelings and for my willingness to share them openly. I took a lot of risks when writing the book, and often thought I might be crazy to reveal as much as I did. But now I think my honesty paid off.

Why did you choose to adopt?

I began having gynecological problems in my teens, and was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in my early 20s. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among women between the ages of 18 and 44, and a leading cause of poor fertility. So from a young age, I knew I might not be able to conceive and when that came to be, both my husband and I were open to adoption. We knew we wanted to be parents. We didn’t care how.

What was the hardest part of the adoption process?

The uncertainty. Not knowing whether you will “find” a child, and if so, when. Not knowing if the child you “find” is the “right” one, or if there is such a thing. So much is out of your hands, out of your control. Most of us aren’t used to that. Though no baby comes with guarantees, including the ones you give birth to, there are even more uncertainties with adoption.

What was the easiest part of adopting?

Loving our children. Both my husband and I bonded with our children the second we laid eyes on them. When the nurse first placed Michael in my arms, I could feel a bit of his soul enter mine. Same with Sarah.

I have no doubt that this early bonding helped us tremendously during the difficult times we had with Michael, which began soon after bringing him home when he was seven days old.

Do you have more information about FASD that you’d like people to know about?

Knowledge about FASD has always been below the public’s radar. Though most people know about Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s Syndrome and Down Syndrome, most are unaware that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the leading cause of developmental disability in North America, with rates higher than both these other disorders. And unlike those, FASD is wholly preventable. The message is clear: don’t drink while pregnant. Why play around with the life of your child, and your own as a parent?

Unfortunately, FASD remains underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Some people with FASD never get diagnosed because symptoms are often similar to other problems, like ADHD, learning disabilities or what parents might call “bad behaviour.”

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.

Every individual with FASD is different, depending on the severity of brain damage, but symptoms an individuals might experience include:

Low birth weight; developmental delays; poor coordination/fine motor skills; poor social skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groups; learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills; and behavioural problems, including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

How has FASD impacted your life?

We adopted Michael when he was seven days old. He had problems right from the get-go. He was sensitive to light, sound and touch. He wasn’t meeting developmental milestones, cried incessantly for long periods of time, and just seemed uncomfortable in his own skin. We believed something was wrong with him, but the doctors kept telling us everything was okay and just go home and relax. When Michael reached public school, things really began to fall apart, and at that time, I insisted that our pediatrician give us a referral to Sick Kids to see if there might be a reason (other than bad parenting, as suggested!), that Michael might be having so many problems. So at the age of six, Michael was diagnosed with FASD.

To this day, the life of every member of our family has been enormously affected by FASD. To this day Michael has support to help him function in the world.

Without the constant advocacy on behalf of Michael throughout his life to obtain the services, supports and accommodations he has needed, Michael would never have come as far as he has.

Michael is now 28 and lives in a group home. From Friday through Sunday he lives with us in our family home on Toronto Island, where he and our daughter Sarah grew up.

Though Michael dropped out of school in Grade 9, he has recently gone back to get his GED, high school equivalency, through CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health here in Toronto.

He has also become a wonderful woodcarver. Several of his carvings have won awards in both the Canadian Wood Carving Championships and the Ontario Wood Carving Championships. A story I wrote about one of his carvings, “Wolf Howling at Moon” won the 2013 Canada Writes Reader’s Choice Award for Creative Non-Fiction.

Photos of Michael’s wood carvings can be found on my website at

If your readers could take away one message what would it be?

I think the strongest message in my book is one of hope. With time, patience, love, hard work and a good deal of luck, most of us can face our challenges and live a life with both grace and humour.

Have you done any reading, speakings, or presentations since the book’s release?

Since publication, I have had the honour of speaking about FASD and/or adoption, as well as our family experience, at professional and family-based conferences and workshops. I have also given readings, including one at local synagogue and at book clubs. I would be happy to hear from individuals or organizations who might like me to speak or provide readings from the book.

New alcohol and pregnancy campaign for NZ – Don’t know? Don’t Drink

The first phase of HPA’s (Health Promotion Agency) alcohol and pregnancy ‘Don’t know? Don’t Drink’ campaign went online on Sunday 14 June.
It is a mainly online campaign focused on young women. It reminds them that alcohol can harm developing babies and if they ‘don’t know’ whether or not they’re pregnant then ‘don’t drink’. The campaign involves video content appearing in a range of digital environments, online display banner placements and posters placed in bars. The campaign media will run until the end of August.
The campaign is supported by a wider alcohol and pregnancy work programme which includes:
• an alcohol and pregnancy key message that is supported by a wide range of health sector agencies
• resources for health professionals to help them have conversations with women about alcohol and pregnancy
• input and leadership from HPA’s Alcohol and Pregnancy Sector Leaders’ Group
You can find more information about the ‘Don’t Know? Don’t Drink’ campaign and HPA’s wider alcohol and pregnancy work at

Focus on fetal alcohol growth

"Health and community workers across Northland are concerned at the growing number of young people who are being diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder..."

10 Jun 2015
Northern News
[Wellington, New Zealand]

Health and community workers across Northland are concerned at the growing number of young people who are being diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

At a forum on ‘‘FASD and Justice’’ in Whangarei on May 24/15, concerns were raised about the suspected number of children in the region who may be affected.

The disorder causes a range of physical, cognitive and behavioural impairments caused by alcohol exposure during fetal development. It can only be caused by a mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy and there is no cure. It is a lifelong brain impairment that cannot be repaired.

The ‘‘secondary effects’’ can impact significantly on the life of a person with the disorder.

These might include behaviours such as lack of impulse control, problems understanding the consequences of their actions and hyperactivity.

In New Zealand, it is estimated that between 600 and 3000 children are born every year with FASD.

If you need help with an alcohol problem, phone free the alcohol drug helpline on 0800 787 797.

Autistic adult daughter leaves mom exhausted with nowhere to turn*

CBC news
Toronto, ON
Go Public
Hope Galloway among thousands of Canadian parents desperate for help
By Kathy Tomlinson, CBC News
Posted: Jun 01, 2015

*(Ed note: this story applies equally to parents with children who struggle with FASD and who are technically "adults" with no support systems in place.)

Mom can't find group home for autistic adult daughter

A "mentally and physically exhausted" Ontario mother is speaking out about how there is no group home and little help for her severely autistic 21-year-old daughter.

"I'm losing sleep. I think about this just about non-stop," said Hope Galloway, 59, from Barrie.

Her daughter Martha is like a preschooler and suffers from violent outbursts. Right now, the young woman spends her days in a school program, stocking shelves at a local store, but at the end of June she will graduate and has nowhere else to go.

"She functions as a child of three to six with a vocabulary of possibly a two-year-old," said Galloway. "Being six feet tall and about 230 pounds is a big factor. And when she becomes angry she is unable to express herself."

Galloway said she and her husband have been dreading and planning for Martha's adulthood for years, but despite exhaustive efforts, they haven't been able to find another place for her to spend her days.

[Photo] Martha's family can't afford to pay $15 to $25 an hour for a caregiver from the $4,000 a year provided by the Ontario government. (CBC)

"She needs to be with other people and contributing to society and the feeling that she has a meaningful existence," said Galloway.

"Everything has to be planned in advance so that she is ready for the next stage. And right now we have no next stage for her."

Long wait lists, costly help

For three years, Martha has been on a long wait list to get into a group home, with no end in sight, her mother said. The Galloways receive $4,000 a year from the Ontario government to pay for help, but said the specialized care Martha needs costs $15 to $25 per hour, so it doesn't buy much.

"I have to be having a terminal illness or going through a wicked divorce or one of us is dead — and then there might be a place for Martha immediately."

[Photo] Hope Galloway, 59, says she's mentally and physically exhausted and worries constantly about who will look after Martha when she's no longer able to. (CBC)

Galloway said she now faces having to quit her nursing job at the end of the month to look after her daughter around the clock, and she doesn't know how she will cope.

"I have no respite. If I have a day off Martha is there with me. I go to work, I come home and she's with me ... there is just no break unless she is in bed," said Galloway.

"If I had to retire, then I would be like a Siamese twin with Martha. And that's not healthy for her. It's not healthy for me. And she needs to be in a setting where she is with like adults."

Governments playing catch-up

This is a huge, chronic problem countrywide. In Ontario alone, there were 21,000 people on a waiting list for this type of assistance last year, when the government announced more money was coming. Ontario's ombudsman is currently investigating 1,200 complaints from families in crisis.

The minister responsible said more group home spaces are coming, but it takes time.

[Photo] The minister responsible, Dr. Helena Jaczek, told Go Public that more space in group homes is coming since her government approved $810 million to eliminate wait lists. (CBC)

"It's a question in some communities of building up capacity. We do now have more funding. As you know our government has approved $810 million in funding over three years, so we did eliminate some of the wait lists that we had," said Dr. Helena Jaczek, minister of community and social services.

Groups that advocate for the disabled said the entire country was unprepared for the increasing number of disabled adults needing community care, since institutions closed years ago.

They told Go Public that governments did not take into account the stress that closing institutions would create on working family members forced to take over.

"It's not sustainable. And so we need a new social contract on this. Already … 25 per cent of Canadians are now providing care to a family member or close friend," said Michael Bach, executive vice-president of the Canadian Association for Community Living, citing federal statistics.

Federal election issue?

Bach said his organization will use the federal election to push for a national benefit program for the disabled — similar to Old Age Security — to give them and their families federal money to cover their needs.

He said that would save the provinces millions in social assistance payments, freeing up some money for programs.

[Photo] Michael Bach of the Canadian Association for Community Living says the need for caregivers will surpass the need for police, nurses and teachers. (CBC)

"We are certainly going to be making this an issue in the upcoming election — that Canada needs a national strategy to address the needs of caregivers," said Bach.

Like many other aging parents, Galloway said her biggest fear is over what will happen when she dies or can no longer look after Martha.

"Nobody planned for the next generation and the next generation," she said. "I am speaking out not just for myself but for all the other families that have children with special needs."

Nunavik health centres streamline family wellness services

[Iqaluit, NU]
Nunavik June 10, 2015
“It’s really a community approach"
KUUJJUAQ — Stacey Ningiuruvik-Turner’s office at the Tulattavik health centre in Kuujjuaq is full of toys, but her work is far from child’s play.

Seated on a shelf are three life-size baby dolls, each in a sleeper. Their facial expressions tell of different health scenarios: the baby on the left shows the features of an infant exposed prenatally to drugs; the baby on the right shows the features of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD); the baby in the centre is considered healthy.

Ningiuruvik-Turner is a family educator with the centre’s integrated perinatal and early childhood services program, often called by its French-language acronym SIPPE.

Her job is to visit homes, schools and daycares in Nunavik’s largest community to deliver educational materials on healthy pregnancy and caring for babies and toddlers.

FASD prevention is a major part of that education, Ningiuruvik-Turner says, noting there is no diagnostic program in Nunavik.

“When people say they don’t know anything about FASD, I’m happy to tell them,” she said, motioning towards the three baby dolls. “I can give them basic information on FASD and show them how to notice things like facial features. We give them information on all the supports available in the community.”

Ningiuruvik-Turner is among the very first family education workers hired in Nunavik as the health centre rolls out its integrated services program, aimed at family wellness. Its goal: to bring together existing health care professionals and social programming from across the region in order to offer a full array of support to expecting parents and children, from birth until they enter school.

That means that, from the time a woman learns she’s pregnant, she and her spouse and family are targeted for services and support like FASD prevention, nutritious food baskets and birthing education. (Ed. note: education about FASD must start pre-conception, not into the first trimester)

“When parents come to do a pregnancy test, the education starts there,’ said Marie-Claude Péloquin, the SIPPE-FASD coordinator at Tulattavik.

This month, SIPPE staff will organize the program’s first-ever baby shower, when expecting moms can come together and celebrate their maternity. The health centre will be giving away its first batch of baby baskets — a small cradle or basket for a newborn to sleep in, filled with gifts like pyjamas, blankets, mittens and other basics.

Finland spearheaded these baby-boxes, but Péloquin said the idea was in part inspired by the sudden death of an infant in Puvirnituq last summer, who is believed to have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In a region where overcrowded housing is common, it’s important for newborns to have a safe space to sleep, she said.

Once the baby arrives, families receive regular home visits, which include basic education on how to soothe a crying baby, SIDS and discipline. As children move into the daycare system, the centre’s early stimulation program workers visit to identify children with any special needs.

In the South, SIPPE is already delivered by health centres across the province but the services are generally targeted at the most vulnerable populations.

But in the North, the program’s coordinators decided that all Nunavimmiut families could be considered vulnerable, so the program is extended to everyone in the region.

Instead of health and social services delivered individually, Nunavik’s two major health centres, Tulattavik and Inuulitsivik, are working on developing a more integrated approach, explained Luce Lepage, the head of youth and family program at Tulattavik.

“For all these young families with children from age 0-5, we consider: how can we prioritize the services they need?” Lepage said. “It’s really a community approach.”

The project has been established in Kuujjuaq, in part in Kangiqsualujjuaq and will be implemented in a third community in the fall of 2015.

The project’s longer-term goal is to allow each Nunavik community to adapt and develop the program according to its own needs, Lepage said.

“That’s why is so important to support the Inuit family educators and give them the support they need to stay on,” she said.

As an Inuk mom of a two-year-old boy, Ningiuruvik-Turner understands how important family support is to young families.

And she understands the challenges parents face raising their children in a region that struggles with a housing shortage, domestic violence and addiction.

“When I go into the high school to talk to teenagers about [family planning and wellness], they always have a lot of questions for me,” Ningiuruvik-Turner said.

Those questions remind her that her outreach work is effective.

“I really hope those teenagers realize they can be a part of this too,” she said. “It would be awesome to have more Inuit working on this.”

Couple frustrated by lack of FASD disclosure…

"Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder affects 30% of Alberta children in care..."
CBC News

Couple frustrated by lack of FASD disclosure in adoption aren't alone, Calgary woman says
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder affects 30% of Alberta children in care
Posted: Jun 16, 2015

A Calgary woman says she also had problems getting vital health information from Alberta's adoption services about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Susan and Bill Smith, whose real names are being withheld to protect the identity of the children in their care, told CBC News that they didn't find out the two girls they adopted had FASD until after the process was complete.

The story, which was published on Monday, spurred feedback from families who say they've gonhad problems getting vital health information from Alberta's adoption services about fetal alcohol spectrum e through a similar experience.

A Calgary woman, whom CBC has also agreed not to name for privacy reasons, says she started the adoption process for two teenage boys back in 2013.

Similar experience

Like the couple in the original story, she and her husband told social workers they were willing to take on kids with disabilities but were not up to the challenge of teenagers with FASD. She also feels that most of the available health information was not being shared with them.

"I sat with him for two hours every night to try and get him to learn his timetable, which was impossible, and that's when I first started figuring out there were holes in his brain," she said.

The woman said she only got excuses from social workers when she raised the concerns. She was told FASD testing was too expensive, and they couldn't have access to the boys' medical files even if they paid, because they didn't have legal guardianship.

Alberta Human Services says all known health information is shared with adoptive parents.

"They're both falling majorly through the cracks," she said. "I'm trying to help them, and I am doing it as fast as I can, as much as I can, because they were in a normal school — which they shouldn't have been."

Violent tendencies

She was also not told one of the boys had violent tendencies.

"When I found out he took a knife to somebody else, we slept with the doors locked, our dogs with us, our keys," she said.

"I bought them cellphones, because I wanted them to be, you know, normal and every kid has a cellphone — that is, a teenager — and we took the cellphones in at night, because we couldn't trust them."

She says she finally told social services that she would not sign the final adoption papers unless the boys were assessed for FASD. The children were removed from their home later that day. The boys still text her regularly.

30% of children

Roughly 30 per cent of Alberta children in care have FASD. It's caused when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy and enters the bloodstream of the developing fetus and interferes with development

"And it is sad, because it is preventable," said Lisa Rogozinsky, the co-ordinator of the Edmonton Fetal Alcohol Network Society.

"No woman drinks because she wants to harm (the) baby," she said.

"We need to look at what are the health and social factors that may be contributing to her continued alcohol use and let's put supports in place."

Those with the disorder suffer varying degrees of permanent brain damage. Typically, they will have lower IQs, poor social skills, memory problems, physical challenges and even violent behaviour.

"And because it is a spectrum and no two children show the same symptoms, there's no one recipe for success," said Rogozinsky. "So it's a lot of trial and error."

“…better screening for FASD needed before adoption”

CBC News
Calgary, AB

David Swann says better screening for FASD needed before adoption
Calls for review of system after parents blindsided by undisclosed medical condition
CBC News Posted: Jun 17, 2015

Liberal leader David Swann says adoptive parents need to have all possible information about any medical conditions the children may have prior to adoption, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Swann says there needs to be a review of the policies dealing with medical disclosure in adoption cases.

His call follows a report by CBC news that a Calgary couple were unable to deal with behavioural problems in their two adopted daughters as a result of undisclosed fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD).

"Very clearly this is a fundamental right of parenting, to know as much as is possible before they launch into a major life commitment," said Swann.

Swann says it's critical for parents to have the information, not only because it affects their capacity as parents, but also because of the need for transparency in the process.

"It's about honesty and fairness to the parents," he said.

'It's a concerning situation,' says minister

The province's minister of human services, Irfan Sabir, said the department passes on all the information it has about a child's medical condition prior to adoption. But he acknowledges there is some concern that this is not always the case.

"It's a concerning situation because these parents are doing a very important job and they are making a difference in the lives of the kids, and we will make sure that the parents' concerns are addressed, [that] they are provided with the information they need to make an informed decision." he said.

Sabir added the department has ongoing support for adoptive parents.

FASD and criminal justice system

By Terrence McEachern, 

Leader-Post, Regina, SK 
June 19, 2015

Although many people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are not violent, that segment of the population still has a high incidence of involvement with the criminal justice system.

"We know that people with FASD are overrepresented - both as offenders, but also as victims - within the justice system. And we know that in many places around the country, people with FASD are also overrepresented among those who are incarcerated," said Amy Salmon, executive director of The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (Can-FASD).

CanFASD was in Regina on Thursday for its annual general meeting and a discussion forum for researchers.

Michelle Stewart's research involves the role mental health disposition courts in Saskatchewan can have as an alternative justice practice for people with cognitive and intellectual disorders, including FASD.

"So, what we need, when it is possible, is a justice system that understands this person might not actually be purposefully doing the acts that they appear to be doing," said Stewart, an assistant professor in the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina and CanFASD's strategic research lead for justice issues.

Alternative justice practices and courts can bring together other resources to identify missing supports in the community and work together to help someone with FASD, she said.

The issue of FASD and the criminal justice system was highlighted in the tragic beating death of sixyear-old Lee Bonneau on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation in 2013. The 10-year-old boy responsible for Bonneau's death had a severe form of FASD.

The disorder was also raised in the sentencing of a man convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the 2012 deaths of Jessica Redman and Sheldon Yuzicappi. Although the co-accused was 17 at the time of the offences, he was sentenced as an adult to life in prison last month.

The meeting also follows recently released recommendations from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The former calls for changes to the Criminal Code through Bill C-583 to define and include FASD as a mitigating factor at sentencing.

Besides more resources and programs to help prevent and treat FASD, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences when FASD is a factor.

Stewart said the exemption would give discretionary powers to a judge to impose a sentence that fits the individual.

"Sending somebody to jail because we have to, versus trying to figure out something that better suits them, I think we need to give judges discretion. They're empowered to make really important decisions about people's lives and we need to give them discretionary power to do that," she said.

Alcohol labelling falls short: – midwife

Worth Repeating: “…A Manawatu midwife is not only disappointed alcohol warning labels for pregnant women have not been made compulsory but thinks the industry should take it a step further…”

(Ed. Note: Canadian beverage alcohol industry continues to fight against labelling in spite of overwhelming evidence that alcohol is a teratogen and should be identified as such.)

10 Jul 2014
Manawatu Standard
Manawatu, New Zealand
Lisa Knight

A Manawatu midwife is not only disappointed alcohol warning labels for pregnant women have not been made compulsory but thinks the industry should take it a step further and include warnings for breastfeeding mothers as well.

The alcohol industry will be allowed two more years to voluntarily warn consumers of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant after a decision by trans-Tasman food safety ministers last week.
Midwife Cheryl Benn said there were a lot of conflicting messages on alcohol and pregnancy, and compulsory-warning labels would make it much clearer for consumers.

“We have no evidence of what the safe amount of alcohol for any women when they’re pregnant is, so it is better to avoid it at all costs,” she said.

“The fact that we’re starting to label, even though it’s not compulsory for the next two years, it’s actually a good starting point. What would be great is if it was compulsory. While it is disappointing it’s at least a step in that direction.”
“Every effort needed to be made to benefit babies, including a warning for breastfeeding women,” Benn said. “Obviously, when people are drinking alcohol they do look at the bottle and read them, so hopefully the message will be there. I’d actually love to see them put something about breastfeeding on there as well, because a lot of women are confused about drinking alcohol when breastfeeding.”
Mamaternity Charitable Trust manager Carolyn Tranter said she was disappointed by the decision. “Everyone acknowledges alcohol is addictive and has major side effects, particularly on an unborn child, so it’s very disappointing [the labelling] hasn’t been made compulsory.”

Tranter said warning labels could make many pregnant women think twice before drinking, although there are some horrific warnings on smoking labels and people still smoke. While most people knew drinking while pregnant could be dangerous, many were still unaware,” Tranter said.
“Before you get pregnant you don’t really take notice of all the studies. You don’t really give it a second thought until you’re pregnant. Warning labels could give children a better start to life,” she said.

“If it can make a difference on one person’s choices during pregnancy, then that can affect and help that one baby.”

An audit of alcohol labelling last year showed 26 percent of products carried a pregnancy-related warning, compared with 6 per cent in 2012. Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said the industry’s voluntary efforts during the past two years had been pathetic and typical of their delaying tactics to avoid regulatory intervention, Williams said effective labelling was proven to raise awareness of the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. “The rights of these children are being overlooked to protect the profits of the alcohol industry.”

Truth & Reconciliation & FASD

"The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network Endorses the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Recommendations on FASD..."

CanFASD Canada FASD Research Network

Truth & Reconciliation Report: Prioritize Prevention, Diagnosis & Support for Individuals Affected by FASD

The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network Endorses the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Recommendations on FASD

VANCOUVER, June 2, 2015 – The historic Truth & Reconciliation report released today offers specific recommendations regarding the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. CanFASD endorses the recommendations to increase community resources to diagnose, support, and prevent FASD, and to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for offenders affected by FASD.

Today’s landmark report adds to the growing movement of community and political leaders calling for statutory change.

“Supporting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in implementing evidence-based, culturally appropriate and community-driven responses to FASD must remain a high priority for Canadians,” said CanFASD Executive Director Dr. Amy Salmon. “Through research, we are always learning more about this misunderstood condition; however there are still significant gaps in knowledge. Aboriginal peoples have been leaders in identifying new and effective approaches to addressing FASD. Partnership-based research is fundamental to this effort.”

Today’s Truth & Reconciliation report makes the following recommendations regarding FASD:

  1. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.
  2. We call upon the government of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) including:
  3. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
  4. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.

iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.

Last month the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled its report on Bill C-583, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Health practitioners and social work leaders reported evidence that shows incorporating FASD screening and diagnosis into justice settings helps reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and improve outcomes.

“CanFASD has been acknowledged by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as a vital contributor to the national discussion on FASD,” noted CanFASD Strategic Research Lead for Justice Issues Dr. Michelle Stewart. “The TRC’s recommendations highlight multiple concerns with the justice system, including the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform that addresses the needs of those living with FASD. We agree with these recommendations and commit to long-term research and the work needed to address the legacies of residential schools in Canada.”

About CanFASD:

CanFASD is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research network with collaborators, researchers and partners across the country. It is Canada’s first comprehensive national FASD research network.

CanFASD’s unique partnership brings together many scientific viewpoints to address the complexities of FASD, with a focus on ensuring that research knowledge is translated to community and policy action. Our mission is to produce and maintain national, collaborative research designed for sharing with all Canadians, leading to prevention strategies and improved support services for people affected by FASD.

Learn More:

Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

For more information on CanFASD and Bill C-583, please visit:

- 30 –

To arrange an interview with a CanFASD spokesperson, contact:

Lynda Vang

Berlin Advertising and Public Relations

780-246-1488 or

Cherie Payne

Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network

778-999-6235 or

Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Report

With a history of cultural genocide, reconciliation is the only way forward
Bramham, Daphne.
The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C]
03 June 2015

The stories of residential school survivors and the solid documentary evidence of what happened makes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report troubling and thought-provoking reading.

Centuries after first contact, the commission asks us to accept that the despair and poverty that aboriginal people live in today is a result of our shared history.

For those of us who are not First Nations, it asks that we assimilate into our understanding of Canada's past that the word genocide is the only appropriate one for what has been done.

But the commission is also firm that the next step beyond the tears, the grief, pain and humiliation is not recrimination but reconciliation.

Finding that way forward is especially important here in British Columbia, where the work of treaty settlement remains unfinished. In fact, the process has been all but abandoned after 20 years, $1 billion and only a handful of signed agreements. The 94 recommendations made by the commission chaired by Justice Murray Sinclair provide a pathway to reconciliation.

There are poignant ones related to the children who never returned from residential schools. The commission calls on the federal government to work with churches and aboriginal community leaders to tell the families of those children where they are buried and respond to the families' wishes for commemoration ceremonies, grave markers or reburial in their home communities.

It calls on the government and the churches to identify, document, preserve and maintain the cemeteries and the graves.

Other recommendations are at once both arcane and aspirational. There's a call for a royal proclamation to repudiate the long-held and unchallenged notions that when Europeans "discovered" this continent it was a blank, unpopulated space. Its effect would be to acknowledge the fact of our first peoples.

The recommendation for a new oath of citizenship again hearkens to the past. It would continue the requirement to swear or affirm allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors, but would also include pledging to faithfully observe the laws of Canada "including the treaties with indigenous peoples."

But most recommendations are not new; most have been made repeatedly before by royal commissions, other inquiries and by child and youth advocates including B.C.'s Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

Those familiar recommendations seek to redress the terrible statistics of aboriginal peoples' lives - the disproportionate number of children in government care, the distressingly high percentage of aboriginal people in prison, the unacceptably high levels of violence against aboriginal women and girls, the high levels of fetal alcohol syndrome and the shorter lifespans.

Many of these recommendations could easily be ignored again, as in the past, because most are neither cheap nor politically easy. But with bold leadership and an outpouring of public support, it's possible.

It's a tall order. Prime Minister Stephen Harper did make an official apology to residential school survivors in 2008. But he refused Tuesday to commit to any of the recommendations. In the past, he's specifically refused to sign on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and refused calls for an inquiry into the more than 1,000 murdered and missing women. In 2013, he killed the Kelowna

Accord, a series of agreements that provided for improvements to the education, employment and living conditions for aboriginal people. It was agreed to by the federal government, all of the provincial and territorial leaders and the leaders of five national aboriginal organizations.

In British Columbia, where almost the entire province remains subject to an unsettled claim, there seems slim hope of bold leadership on reconciliation since Premier Christy Clark brought the treaty settlement process to a virtual halt in March by withdrawing support for her own nominee to chair it.

Yet, if we are to move forward as a country and as a province, reconciliation seems the only possible way. The aboriginal population is the fastest-growing segment of Canadian society and the Idle No More movement was an indication of just how quickly and effectively the youth can be organized.

Fortunately, for now, they have only been mobilized into peaceful demonstrations. But how long can this last?

In the introduction to the commission's report, Justice Sinclair wrote that the survivors of residential schools deserve our respect not just for persevering, but for remaining standing at the end of it all.

But he also argued that we now owe them the debt of doing the right thing. Reconciliation is the right thing and the only solution.

KnowFASD is Back! Learn about FASD and Get Help!
FASD Interventions Across the Lifespan
May 26, 2015
After what seems like far too long, KnowFASD is back in operation! To those of you who use the site regularly and have been waiting for its return, thank you for your patience.

If you have never visited the site, please feel free to drop by and check it out! Take a browse through the interactive home page and learn more/find help on the site’s wiki.

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a similar fashion to Wikipedia) housing information from current research on the neurobehavioural issue at hand. Each wiki page discusses a specific neurobehavioural issue: how it presents, potential causes, and potential consequences. At the bottom of each page, a link is provided to topic-specific intervention options.

Please feel free to visit the site, pass it along, and give us your feedback or suggestions. Check back often as we continue to upload information, links, and resources.

Visit KnowFASD

CanFASD endorses Truth & Reconciliation Report Recommendations on FASD
CanFASD Canada FASD Research Network

Truth Reconciliation Report: Prioritise Prevention, Diagnosis Support for Individuals Affected by FASD
The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network Endorses the Truth Reconciliation Commission Recommendations on FASD

VANCOUVER, June 2, 2015 – The historic Truth & Reconciliation report released today offers specific recommendations regarding the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. CanFASD endorses the recommendations to increase community resources to diagnose, support, and prevent FASD, and to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for offenders affected by FASD.

Today’s landmark report adds to the growing movement of community and political leaders calling for statutory change.
“Supporting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in implementing evidence-based, culturally appropriate and community-driven responses to FASD must remain a high priority for Canadians,” said CanFASD Executive Director Dr. Amy Salmon. “Through research, we are always learning more about this misunderstood condition; however there are still significant gaps in knowledge. Aboriginal peoples have been leaders in identifying new and effective approaches to addressing FASD. Partnership-based research is fundamental to this effort.”

Today’s Truth & Reconciliation report makes the following recommendations regarding FASD:

33. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

34. We call upon the government of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) including:

i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.

ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.

iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.

Last month the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled its report on Bill C-583, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Health practitioners and social work leaders reported evidence that shows incorporating FASD screening and diagnosis into justice settings helps reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and improve outcomes.

“CanFASD has been acknowledged by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as a vital contributor to the national discussion on FASD,” noted CanFASD Strategic Research Lead for Justice Issues Dr. Michelle Stewart. “The TRC’s recommendations highlight multiple concerns with the justice system, including the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform that addresses the needs of those living with FASD. We agree with these recommendations and commit to long-term research and the work needed to address the legacies of residential schools in Canada.”

About CanFASD:

CanFASD is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research network with collaborators, researchers and partners across the country. It is Canada’s first comprehensive national FASD research network.

CanFASD’s unique partnership brings together many scientific viewpoints to address the complexities of FASD, with a focus on ensuring that research knowledge is translated to community and policy action. Our mission is to produce and maintain national, collaborative research designed for sharing with all Canadians, leading to prevention strategies and improved support services for people affected by FASD.

Learn More:

Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

For more information on CanFASD and Bill C-583, please visit:

New Data on Pregnancy re Binge Drinking in Russia

Women's Health Weekly
June 4, 2015

Researchers at Pedag University Have Reported New Data on Pregnancy (Using a single binge drinking question to identify Russian women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy)

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Women's Health Weekly -- Fresh data on Women's Health are presented in a new report. According to news originating from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, "Low rates of contraception and at-risk drinking place many Russian women at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy (AEP). The only realistic way to determine when women are at risk of AEP is by self-reports. A U.S. study found that a single binge-drinking question (SBD) effectively identified nearly all women whose drinking placed them at risk of AEP."

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Pedag University, "The present study replicated the U.S. Participants were 689 non-pregnant Russian women of childbearing age who were at AEP risk. Their answers to SBD, 'During the previous three months, how often did you have four or more drinks on one occasion', were compared with their reports of binge drinking on a 90-day Timeline Followback (TLFB) calendar. The SBD identified 99% of at-risk Russian women as binge drinkers, replicating U.S. Only 8% of the women were identified at-risk using a second AEP criterion of >= 8 drinks on average per week. Although Russian women did not report heavy weekly drinking and two-thirds did not meet AUDIT criteria for problem drinking, when they did drink, 40% of the time it was binge drinking. Almost all Russian women who were at risk of an AEP were identified by a single binge-drinking question. Results from this study suggest that Russian health care practitioners can use SBD to successfully screen women for AEP risk. SBD identified 99% of Russian women who were at AEP risk."

According to the news editors, the research concluded: "Consequently, it is recommended that SBD be incorporated into routine health care screenings at OB/GYN clinic visits."

For more information on this research see: Using a single binge drinking question to identify Russian women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. Addictive Behaviors, 2015;46():53-57.

Addictive Behaviors can be contacted at: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1GB, England. (Elsevier -; Addictive Behaviors -

The news correspondents report that additional information may be obtained from T. Balachova, Nizhny Novgorod State Pedag Univ, Nizhnii Novgorod 603950, Russia. Additional authors for this research include L.C. Sobell, S. Agrawal, G. Isurina, L. Tsvetkova, E. Volkova and S. Bohora (see also Women's Health).

Keywords for this news article include: Russia, Eurasia, Pregnancy, Obstetrics, Women's Health, Nizhny Novgorod

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2015, NewsRx LLC

© 2015 Women's Health Weekly, from the NewsEdge Content Collection. All rights reserved.

Document number: news·20150604·QWABI·142

Special-needs youth face ‘big abyss’ after leaving school

Long wait times for costly programs create financial burdens
By Aleksandra Sagan, CBC News
Jun 02, 2015

Youth with neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism or Down syndrome, often stay within the structured confines of school until they're too old to attend at 21. Parents often struggle to help their children, who are now considered adults, find their place in the world.

"Before 21, there's always something to do," says Graeme S. Treeby, founder of the Special Needs Planning Group, which helps families plan for the financial futures of their children with disabilities. Ed. Note: Treeby is an advocate for Henson Trust arrangements to avoid penalizing recipients of ODSP following the death of parents or other primary caregiver. This is important for all disabled individuals, including those with some form of FASD.

"Then, at 21, you walk into a big abyss."

He has a 28-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy who is also on the autism spectrum.

Treeby and his wife, Anne, helped by a transition program at their daughter's school, searched for a suitable placement for her after graduation. They eventually secured Jenny a spot in a nearby day program. But, for some time after school, Jenny didn't have anywhere to go.

"I still encounter far too many families where the person with the disability is sitting at home watching the TV," he says of families of children with special needs that he visits for work. "That's not appropriate."

Often, it's because there are no sufficient community resources near the family's home or they have long wait lists, he says. In Ontario, 21,000 people were waiting for assistance in 2014. Last July, the provincial government dedicated $810 million over three years to help reduce wait lists.

Treeby wants to see more programs geared towards helping young adults with special needs become part of their communities, through volunteer opportunities or day programs, like his daughter attends.

'Consistent' support needed

People with disabilities need to have a sense of belonging, like they did among a peer group in school, says Briano Di Rezze, a scientist at McMaster University's CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. He studies how special needs youth transition into adulthood. That becomes challenging when "there really is nowhere to go" after high school.

Families are often left to with the "daunting task" of navigating what services may be available to their child after they turn 21, he says. Parents have to figure out not only what help is out there, but also if their child qualifies to receive it.

"It's a human right to be part of communities and to be engaged."– Briano Di Rezze, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research scientist

This shift from a supportive education system to "realizing there is nothing after 21 and high school" can overwhelm families, says Di Rezze.

Programs and funding differ by province and territory, he says — even some communities are better equipped than others to integrate special needs adults.

Families deserve "a seamless and a consistent continuum of support" that integrates community and health services, he says.

They should be provided with a clear list of choices for their child's activities after school. Those services should incorporate children of different abilities, he says, and not place restrictions on eligibility based on criteria like IQ level.

Schools should also prepare youth for independent or community living at an earlier age to help prepare students for life after graduation.

"It's a human right to be part of communities and to be engaged. And for people to be held back because of systems or barriers, I think that needs to be changed," he says

"We want to give them opportunities to maximize their strengths in a community."

'A big financial strain on families'
But even when families manage to find a program, the biggest concern is often cost, says Treeby. Day programs can cost upwards of $100 daily.

"It's a big financial strain on families."

Martha Galloway's family can't afford to pay $15 to $25 an hour for a caregiver from the $4,000 a year provided by the Ontario government. (CBC)

There isn't sufficient funding to help parents pay for support or basic living expenses after their kids are considered adults, he says. In many cases, he says, parents are held responsible for providing long-term quality of life for disabled kids who won't become independent by their late 20s, like most other children would.

Not everyone qualifies for existing funding schemes like the Ontario Disability Support Program or the province's passport funding to help pay for extra support, he says.

Even those who do, may find the maximum payouts not very generous when rent, utilities, transportation, food and other expenses are taken into account.

He says there's not much planning parents can do other than "squirreling away as much money" as possible, like through an RDSP or using life insurance to fund a Henson trust. They need to make sure their savings don't exempt their child from government funds, and staying informed about local services.

Basic income plan proposed

"Poverty is the No. 1 problem" for people with disabilities, with many relying on welfare to subsist, says Michael Mendelson, a senior scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy.

He believes Canadians with severe disabilities should be guaranteed a basic income in a plan similar to the country's income guarantee for low-earning seniors through the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Mendelson co-authored a 2010 report calling for the government to introduce such a program. The report suggested offering a single person with a severe disability $12,160 annually.

Initial interest in the proposal fizzled, he says, but increased public awareness about the economic disadvantages facing people with disabilities could help make such a plan feasible.

Now, the Canadian Association for Community Living is advocating a similar idea. The organization wants to push during the upcoming federal election for a national benefit program for disabled people.

How not to amend a criminal law re FASD


Sentencing and Fetal alcohol disorder: How the Conservatives killed the Bill and the Liberal Response
March 13, 2015 / Michael Spratt

Criminal law is only a rational and effective policy tool when it operates in a principled manner.

If a criminal law's purpose to deter the commission of an offence there must be evidence that this is what the law will do. If legislation is sold as enhancing public safety there should be proof that the law will actually accomplish that goal.

It is not enough to give a criminal bill a catchy title. A law's effectiveness can't be judged by a ridiculous name. If only legislating was that easy.

Turning a bling eye to evidence when crafting criminal law is a dangerous game. The danger is simple - the law won't accomplish its stated goal and may have unanticipated consequences. Criminal laws that are based on ideology run the real risk offending the Charter. Courts, after all, operate on evidence not politics.

Criminal law is all about applying general principles to the specific circumstances of a particular offence. After all, it is simply impossible to conceive of every possible fact situation. This is especially true when it comes to sentencing. Each offence, victim, and offender are different. This is common sense. No two people are the same and no two offences are the same. Sentencing is indeed an individualized process.

The Conservative's answer to the infinite diversity of possible fact scenarios has typically been a one size-fits-all and often unconstitutional solution - mandatory minimum sentences.

This week the Liberal Party's justice critic Sean Casey took a different approach and introduced a sentencing bill that embraces evidence and the idea of an individualized sentencing process.

Casey's bill does not come with a flashy title. Unlike the government's legislation Casey's bill is all substance over style: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (fetal alcohol disorder).

Casey's legislation would recognize that fetal alcohol disorder can impact mental functioning, executive functioning, memory, judgement, and impulse control - all factors that should would have an impact in sentencing and offender.

Legislation to assist in the detection of developmental disorders is necessary to ensure sentences recognize the true moral blameworthiness of an offender. The diagnosis of fetal alcohol disorder and the recognition of its effects fully embraces the ideal of an individualized and contextual sentencing process. The antithesis of current Conservative policy.

That is not to say there are not some issues with the bill. Casey's bill would permit the Court or prosecutor to order a medical assessment over the objection of an accused - at any point during the proceeding. A forced assessment may be seen as paternalistic but more problematically it could impact trial fairness.

All court ordered assessments are disclosed to the prosecutor and the court. Often an assessment will contain statements made by the accused to medical professionals about the alleged offence. There are some protections in the Criminal Code that prevent this type of disclosure from being used against an accused at trial but those protections are not complete. This is one of the reasons defence counsel are often reluctant to seek court ordered assessments.

To fully recognize the autonomy of an accused and the importance of fair trial rights any fetal alcohol assessment should only be ordered with the consent of the accused or after a finding of guilt.

Perhaps a more interesting question (see how I am burying the lead here) is why has the government not introduced a similar bill?

In 2010 then Justice Minister Rob Nicholson acknowledged link between fetal alcohol disorder and criminal conduct . Nicholson pledged that the issue would be on the government's agenda. According to Nicholson fetal alcohol disorder is “a huge problem in our system”.

And then silence - no government legislation. Perhaps the optics would not have been good for a government who bill itself as being tough on crime.

So it fell to Conservative MP Ryan Leef to introduce a private members bill (which was very similar to Casey's proposal) - a full four years after Nicholson identified fetal alcohol disorder as a "huge problem".

And then the Conservative government killed Leef's bill. In November Conservative MP Robert Goguen moved a motion to withdraw Leef's bill and send it to committee for study (perhaps the first time the Conservatives have wanted more study).

Since the bill was not a government bill Leef has to consent to Goguen's motion - which he did - and the bill died.

Leef claimed that he consented to the death of his own legislation because there was simply no time for it to pass before the election. An explanation that is as flimsy as Nicholson's pledge to take action in 2010.

Leef's bill had the support of both the NDP and Liberal Party. When there is political will behind a bill - even a private member's bill - royal assent can be swift. Perhaps a few examples:

C-278 (Geoff Regan, LPC) Purple Day Act (Epilepsy) 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Feb 3, 2012 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on June 28, 2012
C-288 (John Carmichael, CPC) National Flag of Canada Act 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Feb 1, 2012 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on June 28, 2012
C-310 (Joy Smith, CPC) Trafficking in Persons 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Dec 12, 2011 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on June 28, 2012
C-311 (Dan Albas, CPC) Inter provincial importation of wine 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Dec 7, 2011 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on June 28, 2012
C-370 (Gordon Brown, CPC) St. Lawrence Islands National Park 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Sept 19, 2012 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on Mar 27, 2013
C-419 (Alexandrine Latendresse, NDP) Language Skills Act 2nd reading vote and referral to committee was on Feb 27, 2013 Royal Assent (after clearing HOC and Senate) was on June 26, 2013
So it falls to Casey to do what the government has taken active steps to avoid - advance legislation based on fairness and principle.

But taking steps to deal with the "huge problem" of fetal alcohol disorder is not myopically tough on crime - and it is an election year - and Conservatives can't help being Conservatives.

Selling Alcohol in Grocery Stores: Hidden Risks and Alternative Options

Hidden Risks and Alternative Options

By Dr. Norman Giesbrecht, Senior Scientist Emeritus, Public Health and Regulatory Policy Section
CAMH on March 16, 2015

In the last few days we have heard about plans to permit the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores in Ontario. For the most part, media reports have made no reference to potential health and safety risks associated with the proposed changes. You would have thought that the reporters were talking about changing the distribution of milk or orange juice in Ontario.

What about the possible increase in alcohol-related incidents or negative impact on vulnerable populations — is that not relevant to the discussion? Alcohol is a drug with a long list of well demonstrated harms associated with its use. How it is sold, marketed and priced impacts the rate of alcohol-related problems. International research over many decades has shown repeatedly that if more alcohol is sold and appropriate checks are not in place, then more harm can be expected.

These harms include a range of health and social problems impacting not only the drinker, but others in society. They contribute to the already high costs of alcohol-related hospital care (chronic and emergency), criminal justice responses, and productivity losses. Currently in Ontario there are about 1,800 places where alcohol can be purchased to be consumed elsewhere, so-called ‘off premise’ outlets. This includes LCBO regular stores, LCBO Agency Stores, Ontario Winery, Beer Stores and a few others.

According to media reports, the contemplated changes would add about 400 new outlets – 100 new Agency stores and 300 large grocery stores that would sell beer and wine. This is a 22% increase in outlet density. Canadian and international research has indicated that an increase in alcohol outlet density is associated with a wide range of acute and chronic problems. While there are many international examples to support this conclusion, a recent one from British Columbia is timely: researchers found that after an increase in private liquor stores (higher density) there was an increase in liver cirrhosis cases.

Once 300 grocery stores have a green light, will not the thousand or so others also lobby for the same access? What about convenience stores? We know from the examples of Alberta and BC that privatization of alcohol sales can result in more relaxed enforcement of laws pertaining to underage purchases – as well as higher mortality rates from suicide and other alcohol-related causes. The proposed plan is a very risky one. An alternative strategy should be developed in consultation with public health experts. The challenges of eliminating Ontario’s deficit are likely substantial and will require innovative approaches and exemplary decision-making.

As the provincial government attempts to raise revenues and “modernize” the sale of alcohol, it should focus on strategies that can achieve that aim without increasing the risk of alcohol-related harm. Possibilities include:

Minimum prices on alcohol could be raised
Product prices could be based on alcohol content, and taxation protocols could be adjusted, so that there is an incentive for production and consumption of lower-strength beverages
Marketing expenditures by the LCBO could be reduced
Further efficiencies can be introduced to the LCBO, such as using its buying power to get better prices from manufacturers and wholesalers

The course being discussed by decision-makers, in its current form, seems certain to contribute to an increase in alcohol-related harm and costs. We should encourage decision-makers to choose instead a course that fosters greater public awareness of alcohol-related risks and encourages the reduction of those risks. The health of Ontarians should come first.

Charity calls for changes on labelling of alcohol

Fife [Scotland]
By Michael Alexander,
19 February 2015

Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS) is calling for the government to introduce better, more informative labelling of alcoholic drinks.

Under EU legislation, food and soft drinks packaging must show ingredients and nutritional information but alcohol is exempt from these regulations.

Research by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) has shown the majority of the British public supports more nutritional and health information on alcohol product labels, in addition to a warning not to drink when pregnant.

The UK-wide survey found that 83% of people support information on how alcohol can impact on health, and 87% support a warning that when pregnant, the safest option is to avoid alcohol completely.

Jim Bett, service manager at FASS, based in Kirkcaldy, said: “We at FASS have known for a long time that the abuse or misuse of alcohol has serious effects on a person’s health, and these statistics show that the public also appreciate the position, but very often, there is no other available information upon which to base their judgement.

“If the labelling of alcoholic drinks was on a similar footing to that of foodstuffs, then the public would be far more aware of exactly what the contents of alcoholic drinks could mean to their health and wellbeing.”

Many Pregnant Teens Use Alcohol and Drugs, Study Finds

University of Texas at Austin
Feb. 17, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas — New research from The University of Texas at Austin suggests that many teenagers, especially younger teens, may not be getting the message about the risks of using alcohol and other drugs during pregnancy — but that having involved parents and being engaged academically can help.

The study, led by Assistant Professor Christopher Salas-Wright at UT Austin’s School of Social Work and published in the Spring 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors, examines the relationship between substance use and teen pregnancy using a large, nationally representative sample.

Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) pregnant teens reported having used one or more substances in the previous 12 months, a rate that is nearly two times as great as that of nonpregnant teens (35%). Additionally, the study suggests that use of these substances continues during pregnancy for many teens, particularly younger ones. More than one third (34%) of all pregnant adolescents ages 12-14 reported having used one or more substances during the previous 30 days. The substance use, however, decreases dramatically for all pregnant youths as they progress from the first into the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, according to the study. The most commonly used substance is alcohol (16%), followed closely by cannabis (14%), and finally other illicit drugs (5%).

“To our knowledge, this is the largest study to date on the relationship between substance use and teen pregnancy,” Salas-Wright said. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do.”

The study was co-authored with Michael G. Vaughn of Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work and graduate students Jenny Ugalde and Jelena Todic of The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work.

“We found that the odds of substance use were roughly 50 percent lower among pregnant teens reporting consistent parental support and limit-setting, as well as those who expressed strong positive feelings about going to school,” Vaughn said. “This suggests that it makes sense to engage both parents and teachers in efforts to address substance use among pregnant teens.”

The study used data from a large, nationally representative study (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) of youths in the United States between 2002 and 2012. Their sample included 97,850 adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 17. A total of 810 said that they were pregnant.

Researchers examined the prevalence of the use of a wide array of substances including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine/crack, methamphetamine and opiates among pregnant and nonpregnant youths during the previous 12 months. Additionally, they examined the prevalence of substance use among pregnant and nonpregnant teens during the previous 30 days, and across each trimester among the pregnant teens.

For more information, contact: University Communications, Office of the President, 512 471 3151; Maria Andrea Campetella, School of Social Work, 512-471-1458.

Ontario Investing $28 Million in Mental Health and Addictions Services

Ed. Note: This is a good step for Ontario but does not address FASD prevention...
Province Connecting People with the Care They Need Closer to Home
February 25, 2015
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario is investing in local mental health and addictions organizations to provide care closer to home for people who are experiencing mental health and addictions challenges. The province is also creating a province-wide registry of mental health beds to connect those experiencing a mental health crisis with the closest available bed.

This investment will support mental health and addictions services, including:

•Increased access to services such as supportive housing, short-term crisis support beds, peer support groups and treatment programs

•Shorter wait times for care through the new registry of inpatient mental health beds. It will provide doctors, first responders and emergency departments with up-to-date information about available inpatient beds across the province

•Improved transitions between care teams so people do not have to tell their story multiple times

•More early intervention initiatives to reduce repeat visits to emergency departments. For example, expanding the number of early psychosis intervention teams to help people early on after onset of psychosis

The next phase of Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy includes $138 million over three years for community agencies to support improvements to mental health and addictions services, through Local Health Integration Networks.

Supporting mental health and addictions services closer to home is part of Ontario's Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care. It is also part of the government's four-part plan to build Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

Quick Facts

•Each of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks is investing an additional $2 million for 2014-15 in community-based mental health and addictions services.

•Currently, there are 4,700 inpatient mental health beds in more than 80 facilities across Ontario.

•Approximately 30 per cent of Ontarians will experience a mental health and/or substance abuse challenge at some point in their lifetime, with one out of 40 Ontarians experiencing a serious mental illness.

•By 2017, the government will have increased annual funding for mental health and addictions by a total of $172 million since it launched the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy in 2011.


“We have all been touched by mental health and addiction challenges - whether through a friend, a co-worker, a family member or our own experience. By continuing to invest in community services, we’re helping to connect people with the support they need closer to home through settings that are more culturally appropriate and personal. These investments will improve the lives of people experiencing mental illness and addictions challenges - and the families that help care for them.”
Dr. Eric Hoskins
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“Recovery isn’t an easy road. The Gerstein Crisis Centre, with programs such as FRESH (Finding Recovery through Exercise, Skill and Hope) helps people with their recovery from mental health and substance use issues to live well and have rich and happy lives. By supporting these kinds of important community services, we’re helping people build their dignity, self-esteem and a second chance at life.”
Matt Bell person with lived experience and current FRESH worker

Media Contacts

Media Line
Toll-free: 1-888-414-4774
GTA: 416-314-6197

David Jensen
Communications and Marketing Division

Shae Greenfield
Minister's Office

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline
(Toll-free in Ontario only)

Study puts price tag on FASD in Canada

London Free Press
[London, Ontario]
By Debora Van Brenk
February 25, 2015

Ten-year-old Ainsley Schuck is a junior black belt in karate and wants to become a police officer.

Her adoptive mother Paula describes her as a bright, lively, brave kid and a great little sister to 13-year-old Payton.

Ainsley is also impulsive, sensitive to noise and emotionally younger than her years — a result of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the leading cause of preventable developmental disability among Canadians.

Now a ground-breaking national study is quantifying the annual economic cost of the disorder at up to $2.3 billion.

And that’s a “very conservative” calculation of the costs of extra health care, speech therapy, special education and law enforcement for kids and adults, study author Lana Popova says.

The study through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is the most comprehensive of its kind as it itemizes as many associated costs as can be drawn from available data.

But as detailed as the report is, Popova admits the dollar figures are unrealistically low, in part because the data is incomplete.

Paula Schuck, a London advocate for adoptive parents and for families with children with the disorder, said the numbers are artificially low because birth mothers rarely disclose alcohol use during pregnancy and sometimes the cost of diagnosis is prohibitive.

Some costs are also difficult to put a price tag on, she said.

Schuck, a former Free Press reporter, receives calls weekly from caregivers having to curtail or quit paid work because their children need extra care and from people experiencing stress in their relationships.

“It takes a real toll on all of our families,” she said.

People with the disorder are more likely to have health problems requiring medical care; more likely to have run-ins with the law; and more likely to need special-education supports and long-term care.

For Schuck, one solution is to ensure schools invest in children who have the disorder.

“Our kids can be successful but we don’t see a whole lot of that because systems are failing.

“Nobody knows what our kids can do because they haven’t had a chance to be supported properly in society.”

Bright’s Grove advocate Bruce Ritchie said the disorder is vastly under-diagnosed and the addiction centre’s numbers are “grossly under-estimated.”

Ritchie, moderator of the support and information site and father of a son with the disorder, said early diagnosis and intervention are essential.

He also said higher alcohol prices and taxation would help reduce the problem and provide more supports where needed.

His message to women thinking of getting pregnant: “Don’t drink. The only purpose of booze is to make your brain take a hike and the price that child pays is (for) a lifetime.”

Popova said there are several policy implications of the study. They include the importance of prevention; early screening and diagnosis; and early intervention in education and therapies.

What is fetal alcohol spectrum disorder?
•A range of effects on a baby, child and adult after a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy.
•May include as many as 400 different physical, behavioural and educational symptoms, ranging from moderate to severe.
•They can include hyperactivity; lack of focus; poor co-ordination; delayed development and problems in thinking, speech, movement and social skills; poor judgment; learning disabilities; problems seeing or hearing.
•Affects as many as one in 100 Canadians.
•Canada’s alcohol drinking guidelines say there is no safe amount, and no safe time, to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

•Direct health-care (speech therapy, prescription drugs, hospital care, addiction treatment, diagnosis): $129 million to $226 million
•Law enforcement costs (youth and adult correctional services): $378 million
•Other direct costs (foster care, supportive housing, long-term care, special education, prevention and research): $222 million to $479 million
•Study can be found at (search for The Burden and Economic Impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Canada

The study:
•Estimates annual cost of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Canada in 2013 at $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion.
•Written by Lana Popova of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, with funding from Public Health Canada.

[Study title: The Burden and Economic Impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Canada. Svetlana Popova (Principal Investigator), Shannon Lange, Larry Burd and Jurgen Rehm. February 2015. CAMH 198 p. available as a PDF google it]

Mentoring people with FASD


In order to help support people in Saskatchewan living with cognitive disabilities, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), mentorship training was offered in Regina on Thursday for the second year in a row.

"It's a spectrum, so no one is the same. You could work with one individual living with FASD and then I could set you up to work with another one and you would be 'These are not the same person' because it is so different," explained Katie Riley, marketing and events co-ordinator with the FASD Network of Saskatchewan Inc. FASD is a cognitive disability caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Although the disorder affects people differently, some common symptoms include memory issues, time management and sensory problems, Riley said.

Mentors serve as positive role models that help with community living and daily life skills such as budgeting finances and cooking.

Given that role, mentors need to be compassionate and understanding people that put the "disability before the person," she said. Riley said an example of a sensory problem is the inability to have the sensation of feeling full; so someone might not know when to eat.

About 50 people attended the workshop at Travelodge Hotel and Conference Centre Regina. Funding for the mentorship is provided by the province's $5.8-million annual Cognitive Disabilities Strategy.

In terms of the criminal justice system, Riley said that a problem is individuals with FASD might develop addiction issues that lead them in trouble. As well, individuals might not be diagnosed with FASD until they enter the justice system.

Once they are going through the court process, a concern is that once someone with FASD might have a difficult time understanding court-imposed requirements, such as the components of a probation order. To accommodate, the FASD Support Network has a case worker that attends court in Saskatoon to help individuals with the court system, said Riley.

With more than 30 years of experience working with people with cognitive disabilities, John Bell and Monty Brown of CLSD (Community Living Service Delivery) in Moose Jaw, attended the workshop to help network with other groups providing the same services.

Bell and Brown provide outreach services and mentor people with FASD both individually and in group settings. One client, notes Brown, would smoke as many cigarettes put in front of him if limits weren't in place.

"A client that suffers with FASD sometimes doesn't understand consequences to their actions, especially with some behaviours," Bell said.

A key to steering people with FASD away from the criminal justice system is to find positive activities for clients, such as paid work, sports and volunteering. Another client volunteers in a sanctuary feeding distressed and recovering animals.

"You don't know what that person needs until you start to build a relationship with them ... And then, you and I decide as a group or as a team what is it that you need and want and how can we make it happen," Bell said.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

Experts work to keep expectant mothers from drinking

Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 17, 2015
By Graham Ulkins

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Most people have heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but it's a disorder that's often misunderstood.

Most children exposed to alcohol in the womb can develop a lesser form of a similar condition that falls under the umbrella of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). It's the subject of a recent documentary produced by a world-renowned expert on the subject.

When my birth mother drank when I was in her womb, that affected parts of my brain," said one teenager featured in the film. "She said that my mom drank alcohol, and it damaged my brain," said another.

Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D. wants to grab attention by grabbing hearts, using the documentary called "Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up with FASDs" as a medium to explain the disorders to the general public.

"For children and adolescents who've been exposed to alcohol, a very small number of them will actually have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome with the facial characteristics, the growth problems," Chasnoff said. "Far more commonly are the children who look perfectly normal, but the alcohol has affected their brain development."

Chasnoff recently stopped in Baton Rouge for his third visit to the Capital Area Human Services District (CAHSD). He led a discussion after screening the film to a packed room of health professionals and members of the public.

"One of the young ladies in the film is 21-years-old, a sophomore in college, very bright, has an IQ of 125, but can't tell time," he explained.

It's estimated that 2 – 5% of babies born in the United States each year are affected by their mother's drinking. Depending on the stage of pregnancy and how much alcohol is consumed, different areas of the brain can be impacted, often causing learning and behavior problems.

Capital Area social workers use a tool developed by Dr. Chasnoff to screen pregnant women at Medicaid clinics and private doctor's offices. 28 – 30% of women usually screen positive for one or more factors: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or domestic violence problems.

"Since 2004 we have screened over 11,000 women," said Dr. Jan Kasofsky, CAHSD Executive Director. "Thankfully most mothers, a brief intervention is all that they need. They don't need to go into full-blown treatment, but those that do can be treated at Capital Area for a more intense approach."

The program recently expanded to Woman's Hospital, and Capital Area now hopes to get behaviorists into more local obstetrician offices.

"A lot of times providers are afraid to do screening if they don't know they can get the care that the patient needs, and so by providing the care right there in their office, it makes them feel very comfortable knowing that the need will be addressed there," Kasofsky said.

The goal is to give every baby a fair shot, preventing permanent disabilities before it's too late.

About 700 children with FASD, mostly in foster programs, have been treated through CAHSD since 2005, Kasofsky said.

Prisons falling behind in treating fetal alcohol cases: Sapers

By Janice Dickson | Mar 24, 2015

Prisons are doing a poor job of treating inmates afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Canadian Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers told a justice and human rights committee Monday afternoon.
“The unfortunate reality is that most FASD-affected offenders come into prison undiagnosed and untreated and they remain that way,” said Sapers.

FASD is caused by an expectant mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Effects can include birth defects, brain and central nervous system disabilities, as well as cognitive, behavioural and emotional problems.

Sapers delivered his testimony in the context of the committee’s study of Bill C-538, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). The intention of the bill – which was dropped from the order paper by the government last year and sent to committee for further study – was to give judges the ability to consider FASD as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

But according to Sapers, more should be done in prevention and diversion prior to, or on the day that, offenders come into contact with the criminal justice system.

“Sentencing is a back- end measure. There is a need for screening and diagnostic services to be made available to FASD afflicted persons at first contact with the criminal justice system,” he said.

Sapers cautioned that Bill C-583 is a proposed change to sentencing principals similar in intent to section 718.2E of the Criminal Code, which was enacted in 1996 and expresses the need for judges to consider all other sentencing alternatives before sending an offender to prison, with particular consideration for the circumstances of aboriginal people.

“Though the intent of 718.2E was to show restraint in the use of incarceration, the outcome of this measure has not lived up to the optimism about it,” said Sapers.

Sapers said when the Criminal Code was amended in 1996, aboriginal people represented 15 per cent of the total offender population. That percentage has since increased to 25 per cent, and the number of incarcerated aboriginal people has increased by over 50 per cent in the last ten years.

“If there has been judicial restraint, it has not translated into an actual decrease in the number of aboriginal people sent to Canadian jails and prisons.”

Similarly, explained Sapers, “a parole and pardon system that is predicated on the need and capacity to express remorse and learn from past mistakes is also not well suited to FASD affected persons.

“I have suggested the challenges faced by FASD individuals are largely at odds with the purposes of sentencing and incarceration.”

Sapers said that by the time someone with FASD makes it to sentencing, options other than incarceration have become considerably restricted.

“Notwithstanding these concerns, it may be time to consider broadening the definition of mitigating factors at sentencing to include all forms of mental illness and disability, not just FASD,” said Sapers, adding that “such consideration, while late, would certainly be better than never.”

Sapers said that four years after CSC conducted its first major research study on the prevalence of FASD in prisons, CSC still doesn’t regularly screen for FAS disorders among newly admitted offenders.

Once in prison, people with FASD have problems adjusting while incarcerated. They pose a higher risk of involvement in violent acts and are more likely to be charged with both minor and major infractions of institutional rules.

Also, there are no correctional programs specifically for offenders with FASD, said Sapers.

“It is one thing to shed light on the causal factors that may have brought an FASD-afflicted person before the courts, it is quite another to have in place upsteam diversion and treatment programs, services and support in the community that could provide courts with an appropriate disposition other than incarceration.”

Women urged to ‘think before they drink’

Whitehorse Daily Star
By Stephanie Waddell on March 23, 2015

Nine years ago, at the age of 19, Jessica Fulmer was not only too nervous to go to a drug store and buy a pregnancy test, but she also didn’t have the $15 to $20 needed to purchase the test.

Had she been able to quietly slip into a bathroom with a couple of loonies to buy one out of a dispenser, she would have probably known much sooner that she was pregnant.

Fulmer knows what it’s like to live with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) herself.

She was eventually able to talk to her caseworker at the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of Yukon (FASSY), who made the purchase for her, but getting to that point wasn’t easy.

Fulmer is now the mother of a healthy girl.

She recalled her experience this morning during the launch of a new program to make the $2 pregnancy test kits available through dispensers being installed in women’s washrooms in Whitehorse at Yukon College and the Dirty Northern Pub.

They will also be installed in Dawson at the Downtown Hotel (in the lobby washroom) and the Westminster Lounge.

Posters are also set to be displayed in the Jarvis Street Saloon and the Gra8teful Spud in Whitehorse along with another location in Dawson.

The Whitehorse initiative is being led by FASSY, with the project in Dawson being led by Healthy Families Healthy Babies.

As Wenda Bradley, FASSY’s executive director, explained, the initiative aims to have women “think before they drink” and consider whether they might be pregnant before consuming alcohol.

She also wants to see it challenge stereotypes she said can get in the way of effective education on FASD.

“This is not just a problem for women struggling with alcohol consumption or addiction,” Bradley said.

“It is a problem for all of us. We feel that this universal prevention strategy will increase awareness among the general public with no known risk factors, of the prospective health risk of prenatal alcohol exposure.

“The messaging on the pregnancy kit dispensers, we feel, will help do this and as well provide a useful, accessible and affordable tool for women if they choose to use it.”

While there are a number of dispensers elsewhere in the country, Bradley said this is the first one officials know of in Canada’s North.

The Yukon initiative will also be part of a study through the University of Alaska Anchorage looking at whether the dispensers and information or just providing information is effective in reaching women.

“We’re very glad to be connected with this study,” Bradley said.

The results will help determine if it’s having an impact and perhaps eventually lead to further funding for dispensers to be added in other locations down the road.

A survey is being done – with residents able to simply scan a barcode on the posters with a smartphone – as part of that assessment.

Those who participate in the survey will get a $15 iTunes card for their participation and be contacted again in six months to complete the second part of the survey when they can again receive another iTunes card for doing that survey.

FASSY officials first became aware of the kit dispensers during an international FASD prevention conference held in Calgary in 2013.

Healthy Brains For Children developed the dispenser program with a goal of making tests available worldwide in locations where women can test before drinking rather than waiting longer into a pregnancy.

The tests kits are being provided through Healthy Brains For Children with the $2 price-tag reflecting the cost of the pregnancy test and shipping rates.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Bradley said she’s been pleased with the response from the community. All who were asked have been more than willing to participate.

She also pointed out that while the Jarvis Street Saloon had also offered to put in a dispenser, the group opted for the Dirty Northern and Yukon College, while putting the poster up at the Jarvis Street Saloon.

With funding for two dispensers, the group wanted to get one into a bar with the Dirty Northern indicating it has a younger clientele that may prefer that type of test option over a more public purchase at a drugstore.

Also wanting to reach teenagers who are too young to get into bars, the group opted for the college.

Bradley pointed out teenagers can go to the college and discreetly get the test kit from the bathroom near the pit inside the main entrance.

As Fulmer recalled: “The pregnancy test can be expensive, plus there’s a stigma to buying one as a teenager.”

Also partnering on the program is Yukon Brewing, which provided a donation for the purchase of the $1,000 dispensers.

As Yukon Brewing co-owner Bob Baxter said this morning, while the company wants people to buy their product, “we’re all about responsible consumption.”

And that means supporting initiatives like this.

“We’re really happy to be part of this,” Baxter said.

Sue Stark, chair of the college’s school of health, education and human services, also noted the college is pleased to be part of a project that will help women think before they drink.

Government anti-drinking messages irrelevant to young binge drinkers

Science Daily
March 20, 2015

University of Royal Holloway London

Government advertising campaigns to tackle excessive drinking are dismissed as irrelevant by young binge drinkers, because consuming extreme quantities of alcohol is part of their sub-cultural social identity, according to research published this week (18th March) in the Journal of Business Research.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, together with a team from three other UK universities, discovered that official messages are unlikely to work with groups where behaviour is motivated by the need to subvert rules and norms.

Indeed, their study suggested that multi-million pound anti-drinking campaigns could even have an adverse effect on the people most at risk of drinking excessively. Instead, the researchers suggested that more targeted and practical interventions may be more effective than mass media campaigns.

In England, alcohol is responsible for 1.2 million annual hospital admissions, 15,500 deaths, and an annual cost to the UK National Health Service of £3.5 billion.

Professor Chris Hackley, from the School of Management at Royal Holloway, said: "The insight that heavy drinking can be part of a rule-breaking sub-culture may seem obvious, yet huge sums have been spent in the past on Government anti-drinking advertising campaigns that simply fuel the sense that sensible drinking is boring and conformist, while binge drinking is subversive fun."

The researchers analysed data from a sample of 89 young people in the UK between 2004 and 2007. Data sets included interview and discussion group transcripts, ethnographic field notes compiled on nights out, and analysis of 200 alcohol advertisements. The study is the latest in a series of work deriving from the data.

"Government messages that say 'drink sensibly' ignore the ways many young people actually enjoy drinking. This research also has implications for other areas of Government health policy, where compulsive and excessive consumption can sometimes be fuelled by a need to defy and subvert official rules."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Royal Holloway London.
Journal Reference:
1.Chris Hackleya, , , Andrew Bengry-Howellb, , Christine Griffinb, , Isabelle Szmiginc, , Willm Mistrald, , Rungpaka Amy Hackleye,. Transgressive drinking practices and the subversion of proscriptive alcohol policy messages. Journal of Business Research, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.03.011

Cite This Page:

University of Royal Holloway London. "Government anti-drinking messages irrelevant to young binge drinkers, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2015. <>.

Drinking while pregnant isn’t worth the risk, says Christine Rogan

‘‘At the moment we are catching them at the bottom of the cliff and we want to get them at the top,’’

31 Mar 2015

The Nelson Mail
[New Zealand]
Alcohol risks outlined to mums
Drinking while pregnant isn’t worth the risk, says Alcohol Healthwatch health promoter Christine Rogan.

Experts in foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the risks associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy were the keynote speakers at the first interagency workshop of its kind in Nelson.

The issue has been highlighted recently after it was reported that a pregnant woman in Auckland was declined a glass of wine by bar staff earlier this month.

Rogan said Ministry of Health advice was that there was no known safe amount of alcohol in pregnancy and no known safe time during which it could be consumed.

She said there was no protection in the womb from alcohol and the only way to ensure a child was completely safe was to abstain from consuming alcohol.

It wasn’t a social issue and it wasn’t about passing judgment, she said. ‘‘This is about understanding the biology that goes on,’’ said Rogan.

‘‘It is a fact that alcohol can damage an unborn baby and our organisation wants to make sure women are fully informed before they make decisions.’

’She said moderate to high levels of alcohol could lead to FASD, which was the top spectrum of brain damage that included severe behaviour and learning difficulties, but they had no idea where the harm started.

Neuropsychologist for the FASD Centre in Auckland and keynote speaker Valerie McGinn said: ‘‘We can’t say that one drink will cause FASD.’’

But she questioned why one would want to take risks when there were strong links to the devastating condition that would affect a child for life.

She said recent poll results that showed almost 50 per cent of women weren’t aware of the risks associated with drinking during pregnancy were concerning.

‘‘We didn’t know it was that bad.’’

She said it was important that blame wasn’t placed on woman as alcohol was a legal substance, sold between the bread and milk in supermarkets, but the awareness wasn’t there.

‘‘People know it isn’t good but they don’t know why,’’ she said.

Between 1 and 4 per cent of the population was thought to have the disorder and it was a disability that wasn’t being treated properly, said McGinn.

Lots of the behaviours that look like bad behaviour are in fact brain damage behaviours, she said.

The workshop marked the first stage of developing services as a community to deal with educating, diagnosing and assisting those with the disorder.

‘‘At the moment we are catching them at the bottom of the cliff and we want to get them at the top,’’ she said.

About 100 people from different groups attended the first multiagency workshop organised by the Nelson Bays Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour service (NBRTLB).

They included employees from the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, Child Youth and Family, mental health professionals and those in the education sector. NBRTLB manager Lyn Evans said the service’s role encompassed early intervention and recognition of the issues around FASD, using an interagency approach.

The aim of the workshop was to educate people by providing an introduction to the disorder with the latest research from the specialists and a focus on how to support children with FASD in the classroom, she said.

Evans said it was small beginnings and they hoped it would develop into a network of people who had the ability to help those affected by FASD.

NMSU Students Educate Public About Risks Of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant

March 17, 2015

By KRWG News And Partners

Students in a New Mexico State University Public Health Sciences Class have launched a campaign to spread awareness about the risks that are involved with drinking alcohol while pregnant. It’s called, “Sober Choices, Healthy Babies.”

According to Ruben Marquez, an NMSU Senior studying Public Health Sciences, their goal is to spread awareness about the impact that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can have and what people can do to prevent it.

“You know we came into the class and heard we were going to be doing a large project, and as public health students we are really excited to be doing something in the community, and applying what we are learning in the classroom,” says Marquez.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders can hamper a person with a lifetime of physical problems, along with issues with behavior and learning.

NMSU Senior, Karen Rodriguez, is hoping to get people to think about the long-term consequences for a baby whose mother consumes alcohol while pregnant.

“It’s not just the short term, it doesn’t just affect you for a few weeks, it will affect you for the rest of your life,” says Rodriguez.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says in New Mexico nearly 44 percent of women ages 18-44 use alcohol, and nearly 15% binge drink or have four or more drinks on one occasion.

Some may think that it may alright for a pregnant women to consume one alcoholic drink during pregnancy, but Dr. Satya Rao who is teaching the seminar course for the students leading the campaign says that there is very little research available to show a specific amount of alcohol you can drink while pregnant that will not cause FASD.

“In the event of not having this kind of information, it seems appropriate that women who are pregnant make the right kinds of decisions not to drink. We also don’t know the type of alcohol that might be safe, and if there is any type of alcohol that is safe." Rao Says,"Since we don’t know any of those things it is clear that alcohol causes a lot of damage to not only the women but also the fetus and the child that is born."

The Students have already gave educational presentations to La Clinica de Familia’s Healthy Start Program, and today from 4-8 p.m. they will be handing out information at Dublin’s Street Pub and The Game Sports Bar and Grill in Las Cruces.

The class will also continue educational efforts to local college and high school students about the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Canada’s first recovery high school opens in Ontario

A one-hallway high school in Midland, Ont., has opened for students battling addiction. It is believed to be the sole recovery school in the country
By: Olivia Carville, Toronto Star
Apr 07 2015

Positive posters line the hallways of Quest Collegiate, encouraging students to be kind to one another and supporting them in their recovery.  A female student sits in slippers and a multi-coloured blanket during an afternoon counselling session at Quest Collegiate. She is one of five students currently enrolled at the recovery high school. Quest Collegiate founder and chief executive Eileen Shewen spent two years researching recovery high schools in the United States before opening Quest last month.

This high school has no dress code. The students wear slippers or pyjamas to class — and they even get smoke breaks.

They are congratulated for eating fruit, putting their dishes in the sink and apologizing when they swear.

It is a school unlike all the rest, for students unlike all the others.

Quest Collegiate is tucked away on a secluded 1.6 hectare property off a winding provincial highway in Midland, Ont. It is believed to be the sole high school in Canada for teenagers recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol or suffering mental health issues.

Quest is a one-building school; classrooms and kitchen on the left, boarding suites and washrooms on the right.

The gates bear no sign and scuffed sneakers and slippers are stacked in a shoe rack at the front door.

Inspirational posters in the hallway encouraging students to “be the change” are pinned on walls next to articles about teen drug abuse.

Nearly every bedroom is empty. New mattresses and bedding sit in plastic, awaiting new students.

The privately run school, which opened its doors in late February, has only five enrolled students. But a stream of applications from young people all over the country in the past few weeks is testament to the serious level of unmet need for our troubled youth, Quest founder Eileen Shewen says.

A female student, who can’t be named for privacy reasons, shuffles down the hallway in slippers, with a colourful afghan draped over her shoulders.

Her long platinum-blonde hair extensions are messy; her eye makeup is heavy.

“You know, regular high school just wasn’t working for me,” she says to the Star, while grabbing a bottle of soda out of the fridge.

“I got into drugs and stuff and got in the wrong crowd or whatever, I would skip class and go get high everyday,” she shrugs, pulling the blanket tighter around her shoulders. “And, I can’t really do that stuff here.”

At Quest, rehabilitation and education go hand-in-hand. The school weaves an intense counselling program into the Ontario secondary school curriculum.

It also bends the rules for students who are used to breaking them, Shewen says. The students are allowed to eat when they are hungry, smoke when they want, wear what they want and complete courses at their own pace.

One student heads to bed for a nap around noon every day, making him habitually late for math class.

“You have to pick your battle with these kids,” Shewen says.

When they enrol, they sign a pledge to stay sober and not skip class but those rules have already been broken.

On one recent day, only three of the five students were in class.

One was absent after suffering a “meltdown” earlier that day and another, a day student, ran away from home, relapsed and, at the time of publication, his parents still didn’t know where he was.

“The thing with this program is that if they don’t want to be here, they don’t want to be here and we can’t control that,” Shewen says.

The former long-term management systems consultant is the creator and financier of Quest — she spent $180,000 renovating the dilapidated Simcoe County District School Board building and establishing the Quest charitable organization.

Shewen, a mother from Barrie with a doctorate in public health policy, was driven to establish Quest after searching for a more supportive school environment for one of her own children. She says she was shocked to find Canada had no services for adolescents “who don’t fit the normal mould.”

During a two-year research stint, Shewen spoke to experts, visited recovery schools across the United States and “became convinced our students need this.”

“The thing with this program is that not one agency or one person said that it was a really dumb thing to do. Everybody knows that these kids need this,” she says.

The curriculum is offered through Trillium Lakelands District School Board, but the recovery program receives no government funding.

Students pay program fees (sometimes on a sliding scale according to need) to cover accommodation, food and the salary of the two full-time teachers and two addiction and mental health counsellors.

Shewen is desperate for public funding and fears Quest will transform into “a school for rich white boys” unless the government agrees to shoulder some of the growing cost.

The school has room for 40 students — 15 boarders — and Shewen believes it will fill up fast.

Shewen points out the new carpet in the classrooms, the new paint in the boarding suites and the new beds waiting for students. She laughs when she walks into the women’s washroom and sees dirty clothes on the floor and a hair straightener plugged into the wall.

“They are teenagers,” she says, picking up the clothes and unplugging the straightener.

“They are not bad kids, they are awesome kids. They just have some support needs that are not being met in a (mainstream) high school environment.”

Watching the students work in the English classroom, Shewen says: “I’d totally underestimated the mental health component of this and how fragile they all are.”

The students are not only battling addiction, but also suffer paranoia, anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts. Some are heavily medicated.

“The vulnerability is written all over their faces,” she says. “They simply cannot function in a traditional high school.”

After four weeks of class, the enrolled students — four of whom are from Ontario and one from Nova Scotia — are “slowly starting to trust us,” she says.

Shewen has three university degrees, but says when it comes to youth mental health and addiction rehabilitation she still feels naïve.

“I learn something from these kids every day about humanity.”

During lunch, a tattooed 18-year-old sits at his desk doing homework. He tells the Star how he dropped out of high school with grades around 50. Since he started at Quest, his English mark has climbed to 100 and math to 86.

“When the teachers at my old school didn’t answer my questions I just thought, screw it and I’d push the books away. I felt like I was getting ignored,” he says. “It’s easier to get noticed here. They care more.”

One in five young people in Canada struggle with mental health or addiction and thousands fall through the cracks every day just like this young man did, Shewen says.

“The services are fragmented, parents are frustrated and students are suffering,” she says.

Parents have to choose between pushing their child into a broken system or paying a small fortune to send them to youth rehabilitation facilities in the United States.

Quest “is not a luxury camp; the kids are here to learn and to address their personal needs,” she says, adding that most are seriously lacking in life skills.

They are taught how to write grocery lists, cook and eat healthy foods, clean and wash their own clothes. They go on school outings to the gym, art galleries, the dentist and hockey games.

Every afternoon, students gather for a one-hour group counselling session to talk about their fears and frustrations.

“Depression is a word I here a lot around here and quite frankly it scares the crap out of me,” Shewen says, kicking off the session.

A female student starts crying as she explains that no one seems to understand what she is going through. She wipes away tears with her blanket, and says she has battled with suicidal thoughts.

Another student says he was struggling to even get himself out of bed a few months ago.

“Everyone was telling me: ‘You have a great life, you should be happy,’ but I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” he says.

“I’d never experienced sad feelings 24/7. I was always a happy kid and one day I just felt really, really down, I was suicidal and had no one to go to.”

The teacher sitting next to him asks: “Do you have a go-to person now?”

“Yes,” he answers. “Everyone in this room.”

Ontario Committed to Supporting Safe Consumption of Alcohol

April 16, 2015 11:45 A.M.
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Ontario Expanding Beer Sales to Grocery Stores

Ontario understands that selling alcohol is a public trust, and with that trust must come a strong sense of sOntarioocial responsibility.

That is why Ontario will continue to build on its efforts to raise awareness of the risks associated with the misuse of alcohol to reduce potential harm, and to provide the necessary information to make informed choices when it comes to alcohol consumption.

As the expansion of beer sales is undertaken, the following social responsibility protections will be strictly adhered to:

•The province will move to rationalize the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) and Liquor Control Board of Ontario's (LCBO) oversight of beverage alcohol to ensure all current and future activities are aligned to support the province's social responsibility goals and priorities

. •The province will establish and enforce social responsibility standards for any new retailers of beverage alcohol, including:

•A limited number of locations will be authorized to sell beer

•Clear restrictions on hours of sale

•Limits on volumes sold at the new locations

•Minimum and uniform pricing for beer

•Designated sections in stores with access restricted outside of regulated hours of operation

•Social responsibility training for all employees facilitating the purchase of beer

•Appropriate check-out safeguards

•Restricting sales of beer to packs of six or less with no discounts or "pack-up pricing" for multiple purchases.

In addition, the government will continue to develop initiatives to support safe consumption of alcohol, in light of the expansion of alcohol sales in Ontario.

Current efforts that support the province's social responsibility goals include the following:

•Funding to Ontario's 36 Public Health Units from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to develop local programs and policies to prevent alcohol misuse and associated harms. This includes campaigns to raise awareness about the harms related to alcohol misuse; partnering with primary health care providers to promote screening, brief interventions and referral initiatives; working with partners on local policy development; and developing local health status reports.

•The Drug and Alcohol Helpline is a 1-800 phone service that provides 24/7, confidential and free information about drug and alcohol services in Ontario and is funded by MOHLTC.

•An expanded provincial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which is helping more people access co-ordinated mental health services when and where they need them. Ontario's strategy includes increasing support to community mental health service partners and the establishment of a Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council.

•A cross-government Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) strategy is being developed by MCYS. This will include approaches to maximize awareness of alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy.

•The Aboriginal Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Child Nutrition Program supported by MCYS. The program provides healthy lifestyle education, personal support and traditional cultural activities which promote FASD prevention and healthy nutrition. It also produces community resource materials and offers professional development training on prevention and intervention to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal social service providers, educators, justice and medical personnel.

•The Ministry of Transportation's (MTO) Back On Track program, currently delivered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is an impaired driving education and treatment program. Drivers are required to participate if they have been convicted of an impaired driving-related offence or receive more than one roadside licence suspension for driving with a Blood Alcohol Content from 0.05 to 0.08.

•The Ignition Interlock Program is overseen by MTO. Drivers convicted of an impaired driving offence are subject to having an ignition interlock condition applied to their driver's licence. In order to comply with this condition, drivers may choose either not to drive during their ignition interlock period, or to enter into a monitoring agreement with one of the ministry's two service providers who will install the device and monitor its use in the vehicle.

•MTO's Medical Review Program requires that any driver who provides a breath sample that registers a Blood Alcohol Content from 0.05 to 0.08 more than three times must undergo a mandatory medical evaluation. The program will determine whether the driver is alcohol dependent and whether further intervention is needed.

•MOHLTC's Healthy Communities Fund provides funding to community-based organizations for the delivery of projects that improve health and wellness in their communities, including alcohol misuse prevention.

•The National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, which in November 2011 received support from Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and all F/P/T health ministers. The guidelines promote a culture of moderation and provide consistent messaging to promote informed alcohol choices and responsible

•Training supports for First Nations mental health and addiction workers in First Nations communities are being developed by MOHLTC. These supports will build and enhance workers' knowledge, competencies and skills capacity.

•Supporting alcohol and harm reduction initiatives through four of Ontario's Health Promotion Resource Centres. The Mental Health and Addictions Project (CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre), the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre and the Health Promotion Capacity Building-Alcohol Policy HPRC are funded by MOHLTC; and the Best Start Maternal Newborn and Child Health Promotion Resource Centre is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS). These centres provide support and expertise to public health, health promotion and allied health organizations on a variety of health issues including the safe consumption of alcohol.

The LCBO operates numerous social responsibility initiatives which could be expanded to new retail channels, including:

•LCBO works in partnership with social responsibility and public health groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to develop and provide information about responsible alcohol consumption.

•LCBO has a comprehensive training program that teaches staff about Ontario's laws, responsible service and related judgment calls, alcohol issues, and how to identify potential problems and handle them effectively.

.•In 2013-14, the LCBO challenged over 11 million people who appeared underage, intoxicated, or were suspected of purchasing for a minor or intoxicated person. More than 414,600 people were refused service, largely for reasons of age.

•LCBO's Check 25 program requires employees to ask customers who look 25 or under to produce valid photo ID. Program signage and announcements are also found in LCBO stores.

Andrew Robertson
Minister's Office MCYC

David Jensen
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Don’t underestimate risks of expanding beer, wine sales

14 Apr 2015
Toronto Star
[Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition’s Alcohol Working Group]
From the way it’s been reported in much of the mainstream press, one might think that the proposed plan to sell beer and wine in grocery stores was a simple change in the distribution of orange juice. Very little debate. No cost-benefit analysis balancing the possible financial gains against the mounting evidence that increasing the availability of alcohol also increases the costs it levies on our society.

Let us for a moment consider alcohol for what it truly is — as opposed to the ubiquitous recreation aid that we’re accustomed to. It is in many ways a drug. For some, it’s addictive. For anyone, sufficiently large doses can be mentally impairing and carcinogenic. The Canadian Cancer Society website will tell you that alcohol is a proven risk factor for larynx, esophageal, colorectal, liver and breast cancers, and that drinking heavily enough (say, an average of four standard drinks per day), can triple your chances of developing oral cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is associated with at least 200 diseases and “injury conditions”; a category which includes car accidents, murder and suicide. In a world that is grappling with heart disease, AIDS and Ebola, alcohol is still labelled as the “leading risk factor for death among adult males” by the WHO.

But this “risk factor” is also an ancient, much-loved part of many meals, romantic evenings, joyful events and family gatherings. It can be lethal, yet it is drunk safely and responsibly by thousands of people every day. Clearly, we’re not returning to prohibition any time soon, but it is equally clear that we need to take a longer, harder look at how we regulate and distribute this multi-faceted substance.

There’s no denying that alcohol consumption inflicts real, financial costs on Canadians: those 200 health problems noted by the WHO are paid for by OHIP (in Ontario), which is paid for through our taxes. We pay for every alcohol-induced hospital stay, every chemotherapy treatment, every ambulance that responds to a drunk-driving accident and every police breathalyzer test. Through health care and other services, we also pay for the care of the victims of fetal alcohol syndrome and domestic violence, while our economy pays for the lost productivity of the impaired and addicted.

The World health Organization discovered years ago that many of these problems increase in frequency when alcohol becomes more readily available — as it will, if grocery stores start to carry it.

Human misery aside, the price tag for the medical, legal, and other social expenses of alcohol exceeds any government income from its sales.

A 2012 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute determined that the government of British Columbia lost around $60 million from its partially privatized alcohol sales over the course of 2008, while Alberta (another privatized province) lost between $93 million and $1.1 billion in 2002. Taken together, the provincial governments of Canada are thought to have lost at least $3.6 billion from alcohol costs in 2002.

Alberta and B.C. also provide useful lessons when it comes to underage drinking. In both provinces, tests involving “undercover” minors suggest that the privately owned establishments are more lax in their I.D. checks of youthful-looking customers. While this might not necessarily be the case in Ontario, proper oversight and policing of licensed grocery stores represents yet another expense — one first incurred by the stores themselves, but then likely passed on to customers in order to keep pulling in a profit.

This is not a dogmatic teetotaller rant, but a plea for a proper, inclusive, long-term economic assessment. Perhaps it is time for the government to smooth the path for local craft brewers.

Perhaps, if all of the numbers were tallied, and all angles of the Ontario context taken into account, some form of alcohol privatization would still make economic sense in the long run. But first those numbers need to be crunched, and the costs and benefits debated and weighed in public.

Of course, it would be nice to think that our politicians are doing this as we speak, but the recent government record (be it federal, provincial or municipal) for this sort of full-cost accounting is not a good one.

Ashley Hall and Jessica Nelson are both members of the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition’s Alcohol Working Group.

New EU Alcohol Strategy Needed…
European Parliament Resolution calls for new EU Alcohol Strategy Last updated: Friday 1 May 2015

The European Parliament (EP) has adopted a Resolution calling on the European Commission to present a new EU Alcohol Strategy to tackle health harm for 2016-2022. The clear message from MEPs comes just a week after EU Health Ministers meeting in Riga called on the Commission 1 to take action on the health impacts of alcohol. Both MEPs and Ministers have criticized the Commission for failing to update the previous EU Alcohol Strategy which expired in 2012.

Today's European Parliament Resolution calls for a new Strategy, emphasising the importance of better labeling of alcoholic drinks including ingredients and nutritional information with special focus on calories, and the need to raise awareness across the EU of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and drink driving.

A coalition of public health organisations2 welcomes the EP's decision as a step towards reducing harm from alcohol in Europe. Today's resolution - coupled with the strong view of EU Health Ministers - is a wake-up call to the European Commission to move ahead urgently with a new EU Alcohol Strategy and measures to urgently reduce the severity, scope and huge cost imposed by alcohol-related diseases across Europe, which claim 120,000 lives every year in the EU.

Alcohol-abuse is the leading risk factor for ill-health and premature death for the working age population (25-59 years) in Europe3. The societal costs of alcohol use in Europe are in excess of € 155 billion per year across the EU4.

Alcohol-related harm costs Europe at least 2-3% of GDP, mostly from lost productivity and massive healthcare costs. "Prevention of alcohol related harm is a smart investment for the economy, it cuts long-term healthcare expenditures and at the same time raises workforce productivity," says Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare. "The Commission needs to respond to Ministers and the Parliament with a decisive new Alcohol Strategy. The lack of a Strategy is currently undermining Europe's efforts for jobs and growth," went on to say Mrs Skar.

The resolution also includes a reference to Minimum Unit Price (MUP). Addressing alcohol-related harm is also crucial to reduce health inequalities, as the burden of disease and deaths related to alcohol disproportionately affect the most deprived. One of the most cost-effective ways for society to minimise the damage from alcohol consumption is a MUP, such as that proposed by the Scottish Government5.

Alcohol abuse is a major public health issue in every EU country that requires coordinated action. "The Parliament vote, coupled with the call from EU Health Ministers should shame the Commission into action on alcohol. Years of EU inaction have allowed the alcohol industry to hide the harm - and even the calories - in their drinks. The Commission is currently fixated on "Better Regulation", but what's "Better" about the Commission failing in its duty to protect public health?," concluded Nina Renshaw, EPHA Secretary-General.

Six facts on alcohol abuse

Alcohol is the 3rd top risk factor in Europe for ill health and NCDs such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol is a toxic substance in terms of its direct and indirect effects on a wide range of body organs and a cause of some 60 diseases. Taking all diseases and injuries at global level into account, the negative health impact of alcohol consumption is 31.6 times higher than benefit

12 million people in the EU are dependent on alcohol.

Around 9 million children in the EU are living with one parent addicted to alcohol.

1 of 4 road fatalities in EU are due to alcohol; in 2010 nearly 31,000 Europeans were killed on the roads of which 25% were related to alcohol.

Alcohol is responsible 1 in 7 male deaths and 1 in 13 female deaths in the group aged 15-64 years, resulting in approximately 120 000 premature deaths.

Adapted by MNT from original media release

The Canadian Standing Ctte on Justice & Human Rights: 19th Report

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that more resources be allocated to crime prevention and diversion programs for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the federal government work with the provinces and territories to encourage the development of a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder awareness campaign targeting the general public and specific populations vulnerable to FASD.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Correctional Service Canada officers receive training on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as part of their standard training.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that Correctional Service Canada continue to evaluate community-based best practices to screen offenders for FASD and that FASD be built into the existing mental health evaluation upon admission to a penitentiary.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that Correctional Service Canada consider strategies to help the integration and rehabilitation of individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder who are sentenced to two years or more in prison.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the federal government work with the provinces and territories, and key stakeholders such as the Canada FASD Research Network, to support innovative research to improve our understanding of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; inform us about the disorder’s risk factors and protective factors; and help improve health outcomes.

Nothing about the need for diagnostic services.
But it will keep a lot of people busy. How can a person benefit from these recommendations if they do not have a diagnosis?

"Diagnosis, the Heart of the Medical Art Diagnosis is the heart of the medical art; it is what separates medicine as a definite, rational science from medical magic and superstition. Diagnosis is also the central, golden link in the chain of medical knowledge that brings together all its theoretical aspects to provide the practical key to treatment. Diagnosis, to be accurate and sound, must be built upon a broad yet definite base of knowledge regarding all aspects of human anatomy, physiology and pathology."

Landmark California lawsuit to make trauma-informed practices mandatory for all public schools

ACES Too High
ACEs = Adverse Childhood Experiences

May 18, 2015 By Sylvia Paullin

A landmark first step was taken today to insure that all public schools in the United States be legally required to address the unique learning needs of children affected by adverse childhood experiences.

A class action suit on behalf of five students and three teachers in the Compton Unified School District in Compton, CA, was filed by Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm, and Irell Manella LLP. The civic law suit demands that Comptom schools incorporate proven practices that address trauma, in the same way public schools have adapted and evolved in past decades to help students who experience physical or other barriers to learning.

The plaintiffs’ legal team is relying on research demonstrating clearly that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a barrier to academic success for millions of children (see Spokane, WA, students’ trauma prompts search for solutions), especially those in underserved communities, such as Compton, which has a poverty rate twice the California average and a murder rate five times the national average.

According to research from the Washington State University Area Health Education Center, children who have an ACE score of 3 are more than twice as likely to be suspended from school, six times more likely to experience behavioral problems, five times more likely to have severe attendance issues. They also have reduced reading ability and lower grade point averages.

“ACEs” comes from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. The 10 ACEs the researchers measured include physical, sexual and verbal abuse, physical and emotional neglect; a family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness, addicted to alcohol or another substance, in prison, witnessing a mother being abused, losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason.

“Childhood trauma is the number one public health problem in the U.S. today,” said Mark Rosenbaum, directing attorney for Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law project. “Unaddressed trauma is the greatest enemy to the brain. We need to address childhood trauma in our public schools if we are genuinely serious about eliminating the gap between haves and have-nots.”

The lawsuit seeks a remedy based on the adoption of proven models that other school districts have put into practice (see links below to schools that have integrated trauma-informed practices). These models include mental health and counseling services; trauma-informed training for educators and school staff; teaching children coping skills for anxiety and emotions; and implementing positive school discipline and restorative strategies to keep children in a school that is safe and welcoming.

All of the students who are part of the suit talk about how they would like teachers to “hear” them. (With the exception of Kimberly Cervantes, who is 18, the students’ real names are not being published to protect their privacy.)

Said one 17-year-old who was sent to live in a foster home after he called police when his father “went beserk,” “I want to figure out a way for teachers to understand the students. Where is the positive part in their lives? There is none. I would love to see my school as a peaceful place where I could feel safe and calm.”

One student-plaintiff, a former foster youth with a history of being physically and sexually abused, became homeless this year. With nowhere else to turn, he slept on the roof of the high school he attended. At no time did school administrators provide any support or services. Instead, he was suspended. Although some personnel were aware of the student’s circumstances, the student’s attempts to return to school were denied, and he was threatened with law enforcement involvement if he persisted in attempting to return.

Rosenbaum wants the suit to do help create schools that are safe for students. “Our suit seeks to bolster the remarkable resilience of these students,” he said.

And remarkable it can be, if traumatized students don’t have to go to a school that further traumatizes them, and instead provides support. Four years after the principal, all teachers and staff at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, integrated a trauma-informed approach, student suspensions dropped 90% and expulsions were eliminated. The students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates increased, as did the number applying to two- and four-year colleges. The students, whose average adverse childhood experiences (ACE) score is 5.5, call the school their family, because, for most, it’s safer and a more loving place than their own family.

Documentary filmmaker James Redford spent a year at Lincoln High School to follow four students as they interacted with the principal, teachers and staff. The resulting documentary, Paper Tigers, is premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 28.

Many other schools have integrated trauma-informed, resilience-building approaches with results similar to those at Lincoln High School. They include Cherokee Point Elementary in San Diego, six elementary schools in Spokane, WA, four elementary schools in San Francisco, a high school in Blaine, MN, and West Seattle Elementary in Seattle.

The key in all of these schools is, instead of asking a kid “What’s wrong with you?”, teachers ask “What happened to you?” and provide support and guidance to the student and, if necessary and possible, the student’s family.

Coasters in bars warn about FASD

May 15, 2015
Bruce/Grey Health Unit launches Alcohol and Pregnancy Don’t Mix campaign
Meaford Express
By Chris Fell

Coasters with the message “Be safe. Have an alcohol-free pregnancy” are being distributed to licensed establishments throughout Grey Bruce this month.

The key message is not to drink any alcohol when planning and during pregnancy. The coasters, from the Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Fetal Alcohol Neurobehavioural Leadership Team, target women who are planning a pregnancy or who are already pregnant.

The campaign increases awareness that drinking any amount of alcohol will have some effect on the baby’s development. This campaign would not be possible without the participation of the licensed establishments.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes the harm that can occur to a fetus when a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. Alcohol can cause both birth defects and brain damage to the unborn baby. There is no known safe amount or type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.

According to Health Canada, 1% of births involve alcohol use while a Grey Bruce study found 4% of births locally showed use of alcohol during pregnancy (Gareri, et al., 2008).

For more information on FASD or to learn more about local resources and supports for pregnancy, please call Public Health at 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 or visit our website at

‘Even a single glass of alcohol can affect foetus’

18 May 2015
Western Mail

Healthcare professionals are still unsure of how much alcohol is safe for a pregnant woman to drink. Here, leading psychologist Professor Peter Hepper, [Belfast] who is renowned for his research into the effects of alcohol on babies, gives his expert advice

DRINKING during pregnancy may have long-term consequences for the developing foetus, impairing their behavioural, social or cognitive functioning after birth.

These effects are due to alcohol influencing the development and functioning of the individual’s brain and nervous system.

In some cases exposure to alcohol may also result in physical, growth and organ abnormalities, also known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

The British Medical Association in 2007 estimated that one in 100 live births are adversely influenced by exposure to alcohol and 1 in 1,000 display Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

These adverse consequences are often only detected some years after birth.

Our research, examining the behaviour of the human foetus, offers the opportunity to document the effects of alcohol in real time and at the time when alcohol is influencing brain and how it works.

The behaviour of the foetus can be defined as any observable movement or reaction to an external stimulus (eg startling to the sound of a loud noise) of the foetus.

The foetus can be observed safely using ultrasound to provide detailed observations of even the smallest movements, such as the opening and closing of the pupil of the eye, or twitches in response to a sound.

As behaviour is a product of the brain, examining behaviour enables how the brain is working to be assessed.

Thus the effects of alcohol on the brain of the foetus may be seen in changes in its behaviour.

Studies have attempted to observe the effects of alcohol on the foetus.

First, mothers have been asked to drink a small amount of alcohol and its effect on the behaviour of their foetus observed.

Second, the behaviour of foetuses of mothers who drink alcohol has been compared with the behaviour of foetuses whose mothers did not drink alcohol.

When observing the foetus following the mother drinking alcohol – small amounts, just the equivalent of one or two glasses of wine – the foetus’ breathing movements stop.

These breathing movements are not to inspire air but rather practising the movements for when the foetus is born and breathing is essential for survival after birth.

Movements decrease almost immediately upon maternal consumption of alcohol and have disappeared totally by 30 to 40 minutes after consumption.

Between two and three hours later movements are still absent despite maternal blood ethanol levels reading zero at this time.

The behavioural states of the foetus are also disrupted.

When comparing the behaviour of the foetus of mothers who drink against foetuses of mothers who do not drink, when there is no alcohol in the mother’s blood stream, indicates spontaneous startles occur more frequently in fetuses whose mothers drank low levels of alcohol – approximately 2.5 units a week – than in foetuses of mothers who didn’t drink alcohol.

Similarly elicited startles, a movement response to the presentation of a loud noise, occur less frequently in foetuses exposed to alcohol compared to foetuses whose mothers do not drink.

These results may be explained by the fact that alcohol delays the development of the brain, causing spontaneous startles to persevere after the time that they would normally disappear but delaying the emergence of the elicited startle.

Studies have examined habituation, a form of learning, whereby the brain turns off attention to irrelevant events, such as sound, to enable focus on other potentially dangerous events.

This can be illustrated when we hear a ticking clock when first entering a room.

But after a brief period of time you no longer hear the ticking, even though it is still there.

Using a sound to elicit a “jump” in the foetus, it was found that binge drinking affected the foetus’ response and more sound presentations – or poorer learning – were required before the foetus stopped responding.

Furthermore, when tested on different occasions, there was much more variability in brain function in foetuses exposed to alcohol compared to foetuses not exposed to alcohol.

These studies indicate that alcohol, even a single glass, affects the brain of the fetus, influencing its behaviour. Given that the effects of alcohol exposure are entirely preventable, a clear consistent message should be provided by all that even a single glass of alcohol may affect the foetus.

Victims of FASD have symptoms that ‘aren’t always physical’

Chatham Daily News
> [Chatham, Ontario]
> News Local
> May 20, 2015
> Chatham-Kent Public Health
> The Chatham-Kent Pu blic Health Unit is involved in a pilot project to
> diagnose any children in the municipality who may be suffering from
> Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
> Marnie Van Vlymen, manager of the Infant and Child Health Team, said a
> pilot diagnostic clinic is ongoing and there is “a diagnostic team of
> community members.”
> Van Vlymen briefly spoke about the project during a presentation of an
> overview of her department's activities at a meeting of the health
> board Wednesday.
> She said victims of FASD may have symptoms “that aren't always physical.”
> Even if no physical symptoms are present, victims can suffer from a
> variety of problems, including learning difficulties, problems with
> memory, and problems socializing and expressing emotions.
> But having a diagnosis is key to providing treatment. Van Vlymen said,
> “Once they have a diagnosis, that child has more service options.”
> She said: “There are very few diagnostic clinics in Ontario,” and she
> stressed the one in CK is a pilot project only.
> Chatham-Kent Public Health
> Contact Us
> Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit
> 435 Grand Avenue West
> P.O. Box 1136
> Chatham ON N7M 5L8
> Tel: 519.352.7270
> Fax: 519.352.2166
> Clinic Services
> 177 King Street East, Suite 2
> Chatham ON N7M 3N1
> Tel: 519.355.1071
> Fax: 519.355.0848
> Email:

FASD Prevalence rates rise but will awareness help it decline?

20 May 2015
Cape Times
[Cape Town, South Africa]
Lisa Isaacs
Foetal alcohol syndrome ‘to decline’

While the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) continues to rise, experts have predicted forthcoming declines as a result of ongoing awareness and intervention drives.

A study, conducted in 2013 by Stellenbosch University and funded by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism ( NIAAA) in the Wellington community, showed that the overall rates of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) – various permanent birth defects caused by a mother’s alcohol consumption, with the extreme being FAS – was between 13.6 and 20.9 percent, ranking among the highest in the world.

“The data currently indicates an increase in the prevalence of FAS in regions where Stellenbosch University and the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) are studying this,” said one of the study’s contributors, Charles Parry from the SAMRC.

“As a result of intervention-oriented research funded by NIAAA and carried out by a multiskilled team from among other places the University of North Carolina, the University of New Mexico, Stellenbosch University and the SAMRC, we are expecting to show declines in FASD prevalence rates over time.”

He said this was due to multifaceted interventions aimed not only at mothers at risk of having a child with FASD, but also their partners and the broader community.

The 2013 report detailed findings of tests involving 747 Grade 1 pupils.

The overall rate of FASD was between 13.6 and 20.9 percent, with FAS prevalence between 5.93 and 9.1 percent.

Partial foetal alcohol syndrome was from 4.5 to 6.96 percent and alcoholrelated neurodevelopmental disorder was between 3.05 and 4.68 percent.

Parry said previously FAS rates in the Wellington community had increased from 4.6 percent in 1997 to 7.5 percent in 1999, then 8.9 percent in 2002 and 9.1 percent in 2008/09.

“The increase between 2002 and 2008/09 is, however, minimal (from 8.9 to 9.1), so I would say that it has started to stabilise,” Parry said.

Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) chief executive Leana Olivier said: “It is disappointing that pregnant women continue to use alcohol.”

A 2014 FARR study on FAS showed a prevalence rate of 6 percent in Kimberley and a 2013 study showed a 9.6 percent prevalence rate in the Witzenberg subdistrict. Data analysis is being done in the Vredenburg/Saldanha area, with a study currently being conducted in Port Elizabeth.

Olivier said that FAS is the most common preventable cause of mental retardation. In the US, an FAS prevalence between 1 and 3 percent had been recorded, and in France and Italy 3.5 percent.

Olivier said in South Africa, the most severe FAS affected about 3 million people, while FASD, including other forms of birth defects, impacted as many as 8 million.

Common causes included high levels of alcohol abuse in communities and peer pressure, binge drinking during pregnancy and poor family planning practices.

Francis Grobbelaar of FASfacts, an NGO that educates on the effects of alcohol during pregnancy, said: “People need to take this warning seriously. The effect on an unborn baby’s brain is enormous.”

He said it was also important that young mothers were given the support to continue to abstain from alcohol after giving birth.

Paternal involvement in alcohol exposure during pre-conception and pregnancy

Author: Nyanda McBride
Source: Australian Nursing Midwifery Journal. 22.10 (May 2015):

Alcohol exposure during pregnancy, which results in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), is the leading cause of environmental birth defects and intellectual disability in the western world. FAS is characterised by irreversible, primary structural brain damage, leading to secondary deficits in growth and neurological development resulting in a range of life long intellectual and behavioural disabilities.

In Australia, the estimated prevalence rate of FAS Is 0.06 per 1,000 live births (under 15 years) and an Indigenous rate of 8.11 per 1,000 (Elliott et al. 2008). These rates are relatively low due to the underdeveloped diagnosis of FAS in Australia.

However, Australia has a high level of alcohol exposed pregnancies with approximately 50% of Australian women consuming alcohol during pregnancy (AIHW 2010) and around 21 % of pregnant women drinking to high risk levels (McBride et al 2012).

Australian per capita alcohol consumption is high by world standards (WHO 2011) and therefore alcohol use during pregnancy is often supported by complex social and cultural circumstances. Social determinants research spotlights reasons for alcohol use during pregnancy: recent maternal drug use (Accornero et al. 2002), high life stress (Lewis et al. 2011), custodial changes, current drug use in the home, and exposure to violence (Delaney-Black et al 2000), all increase use. Several of these factors have a level of partner involvement suggesting that decisions about alcohol use during pregnancy are not solely made by women, but occur within the context of the home and the broader social environment.

Research from human studies also indicates that paternal alcohol consumption in the preconception period plays a role in fertility, and in fetal and child health. Alcohol use during sperm development can impact on the viability and health of sperm (Muthusami Chinnaswamy 2005); male consumption during preconception is associated with early pregnancy loss (Tine Brink et al. 2004); and not achieving a live birth (Klonoff-Cohen et al. 2003). Paternal alcohol consumption can result in offspring with low birth weight (Little Sing 1987), and reduced cognitive ability (Hegedus et al 1984). Several studies report that heavy alcohol consumption by the father during pre-conception results in an increased level of internalising and externalising behaviours in young children (McBride Johnson 2015).

Research also reports that male partners can have an important impact on maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy through social facilitation (Abel 2004). Australian data Indicate that women are most likely to drink in their own home or at the home of a friend; that over 75% of women who drink during pregnancy usually drink with their partner, with nearly 40% of these women reporting that their partner usually initiates a drinking occasion (McBride, Carruthers Hutchinson 2012).

Recent studies report that most men (75-80%) want male-oriented pre-conception information (Frey et al. 2012); and that male involvement in preconception health increases female partners compliance on behaviours that could impact on fetal health (Czeizel et al. 2013). Involving and informing prospective fathers about male preconception health is likely to be an important prevention strategy for FAS.


Abel E. 2004. Paternal contribution to fetal alcohol syndrome. Addiction Biology. 9:127-33.

Accornero V, Morrow C, Bandstra E, Johnson A, Anthony J. 2002. Behavioral outcome of preschoolers exposed prenatally to cocaine: role of maternal behavioural health. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 27(3):259-69.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Drug statistics series no. 25 (cat. no. PHE 145). Canberra: AIHW; 2011.

Czeizel A et al. 2013. The participation of prospective fathers In preconception care. Clinical medicine insights. Reproductive Health. 7:1.

Delaney-Black V, Covington CY, Templin T, Ager J, Nordstrom-Klee B, Martier S, et al. 2000. Teacher-assessed behaviour of children prenatally exposed to cocaine. Pediatrics. 106(4)782-91.

Elliott E, Payne J, Morris A, Haan E, Bower C 2008. Fetal alcohol syndrome: a prospective national surveillance study. Archives of Disease in Childhood 93:732-7.

Frey K et al 2012. Preconception healthcare: what do men know and believe? Journal of Men's Health. 9(1):25-35.

Hegedus A, Alterman A, Tarter R 1984. Learning achievements in sons of alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 8:330-3.

Klonoff-Cohen H, lam-Kruglick P, Gonzalez C 2003. Effects of maternal and paternal alcohol consumption on the success rates of in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer. Fertility 8 Sterility. 79(2):330-9.

Lewis PT, Shipman VC, May PA 2011. Socioeconomic status, psychological distress, and other maternal risk factors for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders among American Indians of the northern plains. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research. 17(2): 1-21.

Little R, Sing C 1987. Father's drinking and infant birth weight: reporting of an association. Teratology. 36:59-65.

McBride N, Johnson S. Paternal role in alcohol exposed pregnancies and FASD. Finding from a systematic literature review. 6th International Conference on FASD, Vancouver, Canada 3-7 March 2015.

McBride N, Carruthers S, Hutchinson D 2012. Reducing Alcohol Use During Pregnancy: Listening to women who drink as a prevention starting point. A formative Intervention research study. Global Health Promotion. 19(2): 102-14.

Muthusami K, Chinnaswamy P 2005. Effects of chronic alcoholism on male fertility hormones and seman quality. Fertility and Sterility. 84(4):919-24.

Tine Brink H et al. 2004. Consumption at the time of conception and spontaneous abortion. American Journal of Epidekiology. 160(7):661-7.

World Health Organization (WHO) 2011. Global health report on alcohol. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press

Nyanda McBride is a Senior Research Fellow and Program Leader at the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, WA

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)
McBride, Nyanda. "Paternal involvement in alcohol exposure during pre-conception and pregnancy." Australian Nursing Midwifery Journal May 2015: 51. General OneFile. Web. 27 May 2015.

FASD: Understanding the lack of understanding (and making progress)

By Austin M. Davis, Leader-Post May 12, 2015

The University of Regina hosted a conference on Monday targeted at frontline workers who deal with people who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Having “spectrum” in its name should indicate there is no single solution to making life easier for those living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

On Monday, Michelle Stewart, professor at the University of Regina’s Department of Justice, hosted a workshop and training session on FASD for community workers and professionals. It included a hands-on workshop with strategies to improve communication between workers and those living with the stigmatized disorder.

For those without experience dealing with people with FASD, here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in Saskatchewan and what is being done to improve the lives of those whose development was affected by alcohol before they were born.

The realities

FASD has existed as long as there has been alcohol, but science and medicine did not understand the cause and effect of alcohol on fetuses. As scientific research and technology advance, more information is being gathered to help experts and the public develop a better understanding.

" FASD is a highly-stigmatized condition. It raises a lot of challenges in identifying who has FASD. It’s not a disability that you can easily recognize,” Stewart said.

She said members have indicated there might be as many as 55,000 people in the province subject to FASD. Again, because there’s a spectrum, the symptoms and experiences are unique to each individual.

“The constant refrain is: If you’ve met one person with FASD, you’ve met one person with FASD,” Stewart said.

The problems

FASD can affect any part of the body — including the brain or central nervous system — that is developing during the time of exposure.

“People with FASD struggle in understanding social behaviours of what’s acceptable,” said Cheryl Channon, manager of the FASD Centre at the Regina Community Clinic who led Monday’s workshop and training.

She said people with FASD do not always have the capacity to make the best decision out of a given situation. As a result, they’re very vulnerable without proper supports in place.

“They end up in the justice system because of poor mistakes, poor memory, vulnerability and because of the social influences at play — their own addictions or friends who aren’t the best for them,” Channon said.

She also discussed how emerging research suggests people with pre-natal alcohol exposure experience alcohol differently and may be more prone to addictions.

The efforts

Channon said there are provincial and national corrections conversations about finding better ways to reduce the number of people with FASD who may be in prison for reasons that don’t make sense.

“We’re not saying FSAD is an excuse for any crime, but it’s to find the right setting to find the right sentence that makes sense,” Channon said.

She acknowledged the importance of communication between various support networks, but even a simple step comes with difficulties.

“Confidentiality is a human right and we have to honour that, but we have to find a way where the confidentiality does not sabotage the client,” Channon said.

She said there are support workers, families, doctors and lawyers who do care about helping those with FASD, but it’s taking time to get everyone pushing in the same direction because “we don’t have enough of those people yet.”

The solutions

For Mike Greensides, career facilitator at the Neil Squire Society, Monday’s workshop and training gave him more information and more tools to use when he’s working with a person with FASD.

He learned about how to break information down into more easily digestible pieces and gained a better understanding of the distractions people with FASD have to deal with.

“I wasn’t aware that they get distracted easily, like simple noises like a fan running could throw them off,” Greensides said.

Creating a goal for those living with FASD can be difficult, but Channon’s ideal would be to see those affected be able to reach out to a knowledgeable, positive support person at any time.

“It’s really that simple,” Channon said.

Heaviest drinkers are rich women and poor men, report finds

13 May 2015
The Sydney Morning Herald
[Sydney, Australia]
Harriet Alexander, Health

First OECD report into harmful alcohol use

‘[It] is a really interesting finding that will need us to rethink how we target messages.’ Public Health Association chief Michael Moore

The heaviest drinkers in developed countries are poorer, less educated men and wealthier, better educated women, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In a finding that could see women become the targets of public health messages, the first OECD report into harmful alcohol use found that dangerous drinking was polarised at opposite ends of the social spectrum.

Women who were higher educated, with a higher socioeconomic status were more likely to be hazardous drinkers in most of the 15 countries studied, while the reverse was true for men.

In Australia the picture was more complicated for men, who were more likely to drink at hazardous levels if they were less well educated or if they had a higher socio-economic status.

The report, Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy, said the increase in risky drinking among women may be due to them having better paid jobs with higher responsibilities and greater stress. It might be that drinking has become socially acceptable among highly educated women.

‘‘More years spent in education, improved labour market prospects, increased opportunities for socialisation, delayed pregnancies and family ties, are all part of women’s changing lifestyles, in which alcohol drinking, sometimes including heavy drinking, has easily found a place,’’ the report said.

Public Health Association chief executive Michael Moore said the link between social status and drinking was well known – but it was a surprise to learn wealthy women were among the biggest drinkers.

‘‘The less educated, less well off men were clearly on our radar,’’ he said. ‘‘To find that it also applies to higher educated, higher socioeconomic status women is a really interesting finding that will need us to re-think how we target messages.’’

Adults drank on average the equivalent of nine litres of pure alcohol each year, and Australian adults drank the equivalent of 10 litres.

Children were drinking at risky levels at an earlier age and girls were catching up to boys.

In 2001, less than 30 per cent of 15-year-olds had ever been drunk, increasing to 40 per cent in 2010.

The proportion of children who had never drunk alcohol by the age of 15 over the same period shrank from 44 per cent to 30 per cent among boys and 50 per cent to 31 per cent among girls.

Curtin University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute director Mike Daube said the report demonstrated that price policy, regulating access, curbing alcohol promotion and good education programs all worked to reduce alcohol problems.

‘‘This will be an important report if governments listen – another tragedy if they ignore the evidence yet again,’’ he said.

Alcohol use in first three weeks of pregnancy may lead to permanent brain changes in offspring
The Guardian
May 21, 2015

It is well established that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus.

Now, a new study finds that drinking alcohol as early as three to four weeks into pregnancy – before many women even realize they are expecting – may alter gene functioning in the brains of offspring, leading to long-term changes in brain structure.

Drinking alcohol in the first three to four weeks of pregnancy – a time when many women are unaware they are pregnant – may cause long-term brain changes in offspring, according to the study.

The study, conducted in mice and published in the journal PLOS ONE, also identified changes in gene functioning in other body tissues as a result of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy.

The research team, led by Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola of the University of Helsinki in Finland, says their findings indicate that alcohol exposure in early pregnancy may cause lifelong changes to gene regulation in embryonic stem cells – the earliest cells to emerge from a developing embryo.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of a number of health conditions for offspring, including growth restriction, intellectual and learning disabilities, poor memory, poor coordination and speech and language delays.

Dr. Kaminen-Ahola and colleagues note, however, that it is unclear exactly how alcohol exposure during pregnancy impacts fetal development to result in these conditions.

Past animal studies have suggested that alcohol consumption may influence gene expression in the embryo during early pregnancy by making changes to the epigenome, which regulates gene function. The researchers of this latest study wanted to investigate this further.

To reach their findings, the team fed alcohol to a group of pregnant mice during the first eight days of gestation – the equivalent to three to four weeks of gestation in humans – and analyzed its effects on the epigenome of offspring.

Specifically, the researchers focused on how early alcohol exposure during pregnancy influenced the epigenome of the hippocampus among offspring – the brain region that plays a crucial role in memory and learning.

They found that – compared with the offspring of pregnant mice that were not exposed to alcohol – the offspring that were exposed to alcohol showed altered epigenomes, which led to changes in the function of several genes in the hippocampus.

What is more, the researchers identified changes in gene function in two other tissues of offspring exposed to alcohol during early development: bone marrow and the olfactory epithelium of the snout.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the brain structure of the mice offspring when they reached adulthood, the team identified alcohol-induced changes – particularly in the hippocampus, olfactory bulbs and cerebral ventricles.

The team says the alcohol-exposed mice offspring showed symptoms similar to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in humans – a condition that is currently difficult to diagnose. These included reduced growth rate, structural changes to the face and skull and hyperactivity.

As such, the researchers say their findings indicate that epigenetic changes that affect gene regulation could be used as biological biomarkers that would provide a tool for diagnosing FAS.

Dr. Kaminen-Ahola explains: “The results support our assumption that alcohol permanently alters gene regulation at a very early stage. This would be significant for the challenging diagnostics of alcohol-induced damage. The mechanisms and biological markers that can aid in diagnosis are studied so that we can offer the developmental support necessitated by the damage as early as possible. Ideally, a swipe sample from inside the mouth of a newborn could reveal the extent of damage caused by early pregnancy alcohol exposure.”

Experts Call Unhealthy Behaviors Among Pregnant Teens ‘Huge’ Problem

"Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy that leads to serious birth defects... the message often struggles to reach pregnant teens..."

BRENTWOOD, TN - May 13, 2015 -
MotherToBaby Aims To Curb Trend Through New Partnership With ‘Healthy Teen Network’

Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy that leads to serious birth defects is something health care providers have often warned the general public about, but the message often struggles to reach pregnant teens – until now. MotherToBaby, a service of the international non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), announces a new initiative to reach this especially vulnerable population.

Many studies, including one recently published in the Spring 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors, suggest substance abuse among pregnant teens is a notably disturbing problem, one that often continues even after they find out they’re pregnant. “Illicit substances, alcohol, these are all exposures that can do irreversible damage to a developing baby,” said Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, MotherToBaby past president and one of two doctors who first identified Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in 1973. “Evidently, pregnant teens are particularly vulnerable when it comes to unhealthy behaviors. It’s a huge problem that can only be solved by connecting them with the support they need in order to make healthier decisions,” he added.

In an effort to reach more pregnant and breastfeeding teens, MotherToBaby has partnered with the Healthy Teen Network to provide evidence-based information about exposures, such as drugs and alcohol, during pregnancy through its 866-626-6847 help-line. The Healthy Teen Network is a national non-profit that promotes better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations.

“To improve outcomes, including reducing teen pregnancies and births, we need to recognize the complex interrelated factors, or social determinants—such as access to quality education and health services, life goals and aspirations for the future, or healthy relationships—that influence health outcomes,” explained Gina Desidario, director of Marketing and Communications for the Healthy Teen Network.

Dr. Jones hopes by encouraging more youth-centered organizations to educate pregnant teens about MotherToBaby’s judgment-free, evidence-based counseling service, many birth defects will be prevented. Desidario says it’s a service pregnant teens need. “All adolescents and young adults, including teen parents, have a right to comprehensive, developmentally and culturally appropriate, confidential support and services, including contraceptive services, and if pregnant, to full options counseling and services,” she said.

This year, as part of May’s National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, Healthy Teen Network is highlighting a holistic Youth 360° frame as a way to positively, inclusively promote adolescent health for all young people. It’s launched a series of activities and resources to promote adolescent health and well-being. See the Healthy Teen Network website for more information:

MotherToBaby, which consists of 14 services housed at universities and hospitals across the country, provides FREE, evidence-based, personalized risk assessments, education and counseling regarding the effects of exposures like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, smoking, illicit substances, vaccines, beauty products, herbal supplements, chemicals and more during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The public can be connected with a bilingual (English/Spanish) MotherToBaby expert by calling toll-free 1-866-626-6847. The MotherToBaby website also houses a library of fact sheets located at

More than 100,000 women and their health care providers seek information about birth defect prevention from MotherToBaby every year. MotherToBaby has been able to launch new outreach efforts to reach vulnerable populations through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Human Resources and Services Administration.

Media Contact: Nicole Chavez, 619-368-3259, nchavez@MotherToBaby.

FASD prevention needs to begin before pregnancy

Findings from the US National Survey of Family Growth
Girls, Women, Alcohol and Pregnancy
May 20, 2015

Most interventions and programs to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy focus on encouraging pregnant women to abstain from alcohol use. However, one of the most consistent predictors of alcohol use during pregnancy is women’s drinking patterns before pregnancy. As well, a large majority of women have been drinking alcohol for many years prior to getting pregnant.

A recent journal article published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal (April 2015) looks at data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States to estimate the number of women during a one month period who are at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. (An “alcohol-exposed pregnancy” means that a woman is drinking alcohol, sexually active and not using contraception).

The study found that during a one-month period, nearly 2 million women in the United States were at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including 600,000 who were binge drinking. This translates to 3.4%, or 1 in 30, non-pregnant women being at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

Interestingly, being at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy was not clearly associated with most demographic and behavioral characteristics (e.g., income level, tobacco use, ethnicity, education level, etc).

That said, women in this study who were planning to get pregnant were the ones who were at highest risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy – because they often continue to drink until they find our they are pregnant (and thus exposing the fetus to alcohol for several weeks or even months).

As a recent report on alcohol use in OECD countries
[Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy]
describes how rates of alcohol use (including binge drinking) continue to rise in young women in many parts of the world. This suggests the importance of strategies to improve women’s overall health in relation to alcohol (e.g., emphasizing a culture of moderation with low risk drinking guidelines) and FASD prevention activities that target alcohol and contraception use prior to pregnancy and in the preconception period.

Cannon, M.J., Guo, J., Denny, C.H., Green, P.P., Miracle, H., Sniezek, J.E., Floyd, R.L. (2015). Prevalence and Characteristics of Women at Risk for an Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) in the United States: Estimates from the National Survey of Family Growth. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19:776–782. DOI 10.1007/s10995-014-1563-3.

CANFASD welcomes Justice Committee recommendations

Parliament one step closer: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder the Criminal Code
The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network Welcomes Justice Committee Recommendations

VANCOUVER, May 2015 – The Canadian justice system is one step closer to recognising the potential impacts of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This week the Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (CanFASD) was acknowledged by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as a ‘vital’ contributor in its report on Bill C- 583, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code.

“The Canada Northwest FASD Partnership appreciates the Standing Committee’s interest in and acknowledgement of the value of the research being undertaken by CanFASD”, said Honourable Melanie Wight, Manitoba Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities, while speaking on behalf of the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership. “The Partnership looks forward to working with Federal colleagues to develop more comprehensive and effective approaches to prevent individuals with FASD from becoming involved with the justice system, as well as appropriate forms of accommodation for those who find themselves in conflict from the law,” said Hon. Wight.

“The recommendations that have come forward from the Parliamentary Committee are a clear step in the right direction for Canada’s efforts to prevent, manage, treat and understand FASD. As the leading Canadian research network on FASD, we heartily endorse the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee, and urge their implementation,” said CanFASD Executive Director Dr. Amy Salmon.

“Research shows that people with FASD have a disproportionate level of contact with the justice system, both as victims and offenders. Using evidence-based strategies is the most effective way to address issues faced by vulnerable Canadians in conflict with the law,” said Salmon.

Research has shown that nearly 60% of people with FASD come into conflict with the law, and youth with FASD have been found to be between 10-19 times more likely to be incarcerated than youth without FASD.

“The evidence is clear. When we incorporate FASD screening and diagnosis into justice settings, we are better able to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and improve outcomes,” Dr. Salmon noted.

The Committee on Justice and Human Rights released its report on Bill C-583 after two months of study and submissions from expert witnesses. The report recommends that:

more resources be allocated to crime prevention and diversion programs for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder;
the federal government work with the provinces and territories to encourage and develop a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder awareness campaign;
the federal government work with the provinces and territories and key stakeholders such as the Canada FASD Research Network to support innovative research to improve understanding of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, its risk and protective factors, and help improve health outcomes;
the federal government work with the provinces and territories to encourage standardised data collection on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Canada;
the RCMP and Correctional Service Canada officers receive training on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as part of their standard training;
the Correctional Service Canada continue to evaluate community-based best practices to screen offenders for FASD and that FASD be built into the existing mental health evaluation upon admission to a penitentiary; and
the Correctional Service Canada considers strategies to help the integration and rehabilitation of individuals with FASD who are sentenced to two years or more in prison.

About CanFASD:
CanFASD is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research network, with collaborators, researchers and partners across the country. It is Canada’s first comprehensive national FASD research network.

CanFASD’s unique partnership brings together many scientific viewpoints to address the complexities of FASD, with a focus of ensuring that research knowledge is translated to community and policy action. Our mission is to produce and maintain national, collaborative research designed for sharing with all Canadians, leading to prevention strategies and improved support services for people affected by FASD.

Learn More:
For more information on CanFASD and Bill C-583, please visit:

Saskatchewan Government needs to take ‘bold steps’ to improve child protection

The Canadian Press [Toronto] 07 May 2015.
NDP criticizes government response to inquest

REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition is criticizing the Ministry of Social Services for its response to an inquest into the death of a six-year-old boy who was killed by an older child on a reserve.

A coroner's inquest into Lee Bonneau's death resulted in 19 recommendations which ranged from improving mental health supports to addressing staffing issues.

Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer said Thursday child protection services are continuously being improved and the government has accepted most of the recommendations.

"Some will be under consideration as we try to see if we can address them."

Harpauer noted that one of the recommendations was to create a facility for children under 12 who have complex needs.

"We already have facilities ... we're not sure we need to build another one."

NDP critic David Forbes said he's disappointed by the government's response. He suggested Harpauer needs to take "bold steps" to address systemic problems.

"She fails to really take how serious this is," he said. "We have kids who are at risk."

Lee Bonneau was found with head injuries in a wooded area on the Kahkewistahaw reserve in 2013. He was last seen walking with an older boy outside a recreation complex while Lee's foster mother was playing bingo.

Children's advocate Bob Pringle said in a report last year that the 10-year-old boy who killed Lee had behavioural issues and probably should not have been in the community unsupervised. Because he was under 12, he could not be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The jury's recommendations were mainly directed towards the Ministry of Social Services and the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services. They included addressing communication shortfalls and revising the size of service centres for rural offices.

The jury also recommended that fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mental-health issues should be addressed as soon as they are identified in children.

Forbes said better training for foster parents and strict licensing rules should be priorities.

"I would even add using licensed, registered social workers," he said. "We have not seen this really been addressed by the minister and for her I get the sense it's business as usual which is really unfortunate."

Harpauer said the improvements that have been made include a reduction in the number of children in foster homes.

"We still have a small number of homes that have more than four children," she said. "We have put supports in those homes to help them with the children and mostly they are sibling groups and we're keeping them together."

The Canadian Press

Services for sex offenders lacking, says lawyer

May 8, 2015

Following charge of sexual assault, man unable to access programming in wellness court
By John McFadden Northern News Services

A man convicted of sexual assault on Wednesday has received a conditional discharge in territorial court in Yellowknife.

The man, 43, pleaded guilty to touching a woman's genitals through her clothing while she was in bed at a women's shelter last July. Crown prosecutor Alex Godfrey said the man, who lives in a nearby shelter, said he entered her room after he found the door unlocked. Yellowknifer has chosen not to publish the man's name because it is his first criminal offence and it could help to identify the victim. There is a court-ordered publication ban on reporting any information that might identify the victim.

Judge Christine Gagnon gave the man a conditional discharge, in part she said, because sentencing him would require him to be placed on the national sex offender registry (SORA). Godfrey had called for a suspended sentence. The judge noted the registry order is mandatory upon conviction for a sexual assault charge. But she referred to an Ontario court ruling whereby if the convicted person wasn't sentenced, then he or she didn't have to be placed on the registry.

"It's a dilemma," Gagnon said before her ruling. "The SORA order also comes with a stigmatization."

The man's legal aid lawyer Tony Amoud told the court that although his client graduated from Grade 12 in Yellowknife he cannot read or write.

He argued placing his client on the sex offender registry would not be appropriate because he would not be able to read it and understand what it meant, nor would he be able to decipher how to get his name removed from the registry, which he could apply to do,after five years.

Amoud was outraged the man could not be admitted to wellness court because officials with that program told him there is no programming available in the NWT to treat sex offenders.

It is believed the man would have qualified for wellness court because his sexual assault was not overly violent.

"It's a travesty," Amoud told the court. "Not just because he couldn't be admitted to wellness court because of new programming for sex offenders, but also that there is no help out there for sex offenders."

The victim was not in court for sentencing. Her victim impact statement was read aloud in court by Godfrey.

In it, she stated she has suffered greatly from emotional distress since the assault.

Gagnon did sentence the man to six months probation. Among his conditions are that he not contact the victim unless she and his probation supervisor grant him permission to do so. He must also provide a sample of his DNA.

Court heard the man and the victim were known to each other before the assault. Both suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Kids with FASD 19 times more likely to cause trouble

The New Zealand Herald
May 26, 2015

Youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are 19 times more likely to get into trouble with the law than other people, a district health board says.

And among those in foster care, the prevalence of the disorder, caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy, is 10 times the rate in the general population, the Northland DHB says, following a forum on the links between the disorder and the justice system.

Judge Catherine Crawford, of West Australia, told the forum, "Children adversely affected by neuro-disability, resulting from alcohol exposure during pregnancy, are at an increased risk of committing crime or being a victim of crime. Such outcomes are doomed to be repeated when there is systematic failure to identify and appropriately accommodate their disability into adulthood."

She said that when she spent a day in the Whangarei Youth Court, six of the 19 young people before the court had been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The health board said it was estimated that of the nearly 60,000 live births a year in New Zealand, 600 to 3000 are children with FSAD.

"According to Ministry of Health figures, one in four mothers continue to drink alcohol during pregnancy."

A DHB health promotion adviser, Dave Hookway, said, "It is important for women to understand that there is no safe amount, nor time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Women who do drink while pregnant put their unborn child at risk of physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities with life-long effects."

"Northland has been developing its diagnostic and assessment capability".

FSAD played a key role in the Teina Pora appeal.

Medical opinions that Mr Pora has FASD and that this could explain what are now believed to be his false confessions in the Susan Burdett case were important factors in appeal judges quashing his convictions for her rape and murder.

Brother tells Pora ‘you didn’t do it’

25 May 2015
Taranaki Daily News
Fairfax New Zealand

Teina Pora has met the brother of the woman he was twice convicted of murdering and been told: ‘‘You didn’t do it.’’

Pora, 39, whose conviction for the 1992 murder of Auckland woman Susan Burdett was quashed by the Privy Council, gave his first interview to TV3’s 3D programme last night.

Pora met Jim Burdett, Susan’s brother, and was shown saying to him: ‘‘First and foremost . . . I’d just like to thank you for believing in my innocence.’’

Burdett said he first assumed Pora was guilty but ‘‘I knew it was never the whole story’’.

‘‘The story didn’t make sense. And I know what you mean about justice. You didn’t do it. Somebody did. We need to find out who that is.’’

Pora was convicted of murdering Burdett after the then17-year-old told police he had acted as lookout for two gang members who were the perpetrators.

He told 3D it was a misguided attempt to claim the $20,000 reward on offer.

Instead, police charged Pora with her murder and he was convicted in 1994.

He was re-tried in 2000 after DNA found at the scene was later identified as coming from serial rapist Malcolm Rewa.

At the re-trial he was found guilty of murder as Rewa’s accomplice.

Rewa was only found guilty of rape with his jury hung on the charge of murder.

Pora told 3D he had ‘‘never, ever met the man’’.

‘‘I know who he is now because they showed his face on TV and all that but I never ever hanged out with Malcolm Rewa.’’

‘‘Did you go with him to commit that crime without knowing him?’’ interviewer Paula Penfold asked. ‘‘No, not at all.’’ Pora told the show he had confessed to the crime after four or five days of being ‘‘hounded’’ by police officers and being woken up at all hours for interviews.

‘‘I just couldn’t take it anymore and I just sort of took responsibility and confessed to it.’’

Pora’s conviction was quashed by the Privy Council after evidence of his fetal alcohol spectrum disorder cast doubt on the propriety of those confessions.

There are calls for Rewa to be re-tried for Burdett’s murder.

Jim Burdett said he supported a re-trial for Rewa without the ‘‘confusion’’ of Pora being involved.

The last he had heard from the Solicitor-General, though, was that Pora had not been found innocent and they had no grounds for reopening the inquiry.

Of meeting Pora, Burdett said he ‘‘seemed like a nice guy’’.

Pora told 3D he was angry with the police who put him in prison and let him ‘‘go through Hell’’.

‘‘I’m not a person that shows much emotion or cry or anything but it eats me up inside when they do s... like that.’’

Pora said though compensation would not make up for the 20 years he lost in prison, it would ‘‘help the cause for my daughter and my grandson to live a good life’’.

What he really wanted was an apology, he said. ‘‘Why does the apology matter to you?’’ Penfold asked.

‘‘So I can rest.’’

Binge drinking among professional women is ‘the dark side of equality’ warns OECD

"...'In the UK, ...partnerships have resulted in significant achievements including taking a billion units of alcohol out of the market and labelling 80% of products with important health information, and over 90% with a warning about drinking when pregnant.'"
The Telegraph

A major OECD study says women who went to university drink more, and the average drinker would live longer if they turned down just one drink a week
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor
12 May 2015

Britain is the worst country in the western world for heavy drinking among professional women, according to research showing “the dark side of equality”.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows women in this country are twice as likely to be problem drinkers if they have a good education.

Authors warned that Britain is one of the few countries in the world in which professional women appear to be drinking to keep up with men.

One in five women in England who has been to university regularly drinks too much, the report found – compared with one in ten of those with lower levels of education.

The research found that the link between high levels of education among women and hazardous drinking was stronger in this country than in any other.

Mark Pearson, OECD head of health, said the trends reflected “the dark side of equality” with middle-class women risking their health as they adopted traditional male drinking habits.

He said binge drinking by female professionals was a “particular characteristic” of the UK, with women moving into industries with heavy drinking habits, and taking their cues from men.

“You have seen women moving to areas which were traditionally male and were traditionally drinking professions,” he said, citing the financial sector as an example.

“As women have moved in to those professions they have adopted the patterns that were there for men.”

The trends "pretty unique" to the UK, he said, and was not shared by other countries with high female employment rates.

Researchers suggested the fact women are starting families later might also mean heavy drinking was more likely to become embedded into their lifestyle.

The report says: “Women with higher education may have better-paid jobs involving higher degrees of responsibility and thus may drink more heavily because they have more stress as well as more chances to go out drinking with male colleagues with higher limits of drinking.”

“More years spent in education, improved labour market prospects, increased opportunities for socialisation, delayed pregnancies and family ties, are all part of women’s changing lifestyles, in which alcohol drinking, sometimes heavy drinking, has easily found a place,” it adds

The highest proportion of hazardous drinking among women was found among those aged 45 to 64.

The report said much of this was done at home, “hidden from public view” with wine the most common drink consumed.

While more education and a higher social status increased the chance that women were heavy drinkers, there was little difference between men with different education levels, the research found.

Researchers said it was unclear why women in other countries had embraced the labour market, without feeling obliged to drink as much as their male colleagues.

And they warned teenage girls in this country were following the example of binge drinking women, and ending up more likely than boys to have been drunk twice by the age of 15.

Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies accused the drinks industry of “aggressive marketing tactics” to persuade women to drink more.

She said: “In recent years we've seen a huge surge in female oriented sweet, fizzy, pink drinks, often linked to sponsorship deals with cosmetic brands, women's daytime tv shows and sometimes even breast cancer awareness campaigns.”

The statistics show the link between high levels of education and regularly drinking above recommended limits is greatest among women in England, far higher than in other studies examined, including France, Finland, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United States.

The report, which compared 40 countries, found that alcohol consumption in the UK was the 11th highest, with the highest levels found in Estonia, followed by Austria, France, Ireland and the Czech republic.

Average levels of alcohol consumed in the UK are almost 12 per cent higher than the OECD average, with 10.6 litres of pure alcohol consumed, per head, the major study shows.

Women with higher education tend to drink more

Four in five drinkers would live longer if they cut their alcohol intake by just a small glass of wine a week, the study says.

The OECD report says detailed policy research shows that “the vast majority of drinkers” would benefit from cutting back.

Although small amounts of alcohol are linked to health benefits, the report said that overall, alcohol is causing more harm than good.

The study says that reducing weekly intake by one unit – the equivalent of half a pint of beer or a 125 ml glass of wine - is enough to reduce the risk of death from all causes.

A spokesman for the Portman group, which represents the alcohol industry, said: “This report should not take precedent over the official UK government statistics that show significant declines in underage drinking, binge drinking and alcohol-related violent crime during the last decade. The British drink less alcohol than many EU countries like France, Germany and Portugal."

"However, the report rightly recommends that alcohol policy should target harmful drinkers first and that open dialogue and cooperation with alcohol producers and retailers is part of an effective policy approach in tackling alcohol harms," he added. "In the UK, such partnerships have resulted in significant achievements including taking a billion units of alcohol out of the market and labelling 80% of products with important health information, and over 90% with a warning about drinking when pregnant."

Yukon MP Ryan Leef’s recommendations on FASD dropped

Standing Committee doesn't recommend judges have ability to consider FASD a 'mitigating factor'
CBC: Mar 11, 2015

The Standing committee for Justice on FASD has recommended more training on FASD in the RCMP and Correctional Service. (CBC)

A parliamentary committee has dropped recommendations proposed by Yukon MP Ryan Leef, which relate to how people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder should be treated by the criminal justice system.

In 2013 Yukon MP Ryan Leef brought forward a private members' bill called C-583 that would have allowed judges to order that people accused be assessed for FASD. The bill would have legally defined the condition within the Criminal Code and would have allowed judges to consider FASD a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Leef withdrew his private member's bill last November in return for a government promise to study the issue in more depth.

That committee has now issued its final recommendations. They do not include the measures called for in Leef's bill.

Committee recommends changes to RCMP 'standard training.'

The federal standing committee recommends better training for RCMP and staff at Correctional Service Canada.

It says an understanding of FASD must be taught "as part of their standard training."

It also recommends that "more resources be allocated to crime prevention and diversion programs" to help people with the condition.

Another recommendation is that people be screened for FASD upon entering prisons. It urges Correctional Service Canada to "consider strategies to help the integration and rehabilitation of individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder," who are sentenced to two years or more in prison.

The committee also calls for more research on FASD and more public awareness campaigns in Canada.

Yukon advocacy group wanted Leef's proposals adopted by government

Wenda Bradley, the Executive Director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon, is disappointed by the report.

She says the recommendations are not new and little has been done to implement them on past occasions.

Bradley says the society was hoping Ryan Leef's proposals would go forward. She says they were concrete ideas that would have made a difference for people with FASD.

Bradley says the one good thing to come out of Leef's discarded private members bill is that the issues he raised are now part of a national conversation.

Liberal MPs say Leef's proposals were left out at the insistence of the Conservative majority on the committee. NDP and Liberal MPs on the committee supported the proposals.

Leef, however, says he's pleased with the final report. He says advocacy groups have made these recommendations before, but this is a step up

"They've never really had a true opportunity to make these recommendations to Parliament, have Parliament then draft them condense them and make them into a report and forward those recommendations in an obligatory manner for the government to respond to," Leef says.

He says if the government doesn't respond with legislation he'll look at introducing what he calls an improved version of his private members bill.

The standing committee heard from people familiar with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder from across Canada, many of whom supported Leef's ideas.

Victims of FASD disproportionately involved in crime

Amy Salmon, the Executive Director of Canada FASD Research Network, says victims of FASD are disproportionately involved in crime. They are also much more likely to become homeless, develop addictions or become victims of abuse.

FASD causes behavioural symptoms such as poor impulse control, a propensity to explosive rage and a poor understanding of consequences.

"Research shows that people with FASD have a disproportionate level of contact with the justice system, both as victims and offenders. It is essential that FASD is recognized as a life-long, brain-based disability," Salmon wrote.

Recommendations of a standing committee do not automatically mean changes in policy. They will be sent to the government in power for consideration.


This day signifies that on the ninth day of the ninth month of each year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, a woman should abstain from alcohol.

When: September 9, every year
Where: Anywhere