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07/09/2012

International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders day, 9 of September

This Sunday, September 9, the 9th day of the 9th month, is International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders day, prenatal exposure to alcohol is the leading cause of mental disabilities and birth defects in Europe

No known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy

Throughout pregnancy, even at low levels of exposure, alcohol interferes with the normal development of the foetus and can seriously damage the unborn child.

Foetal 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 can include physical, mental, behavioural, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.

FASD is 100% preventable, a woman just needs to abstain from alcohol during her pregnancy

Unborn children have no means to protect themselves against the harmful effects of alcohol, and the damage that alcohol may inflict can stay with them throughout their lives.

In 2006, the EU made the protection of the unborn child one of the priorities of its current Alcohol Strategy. Although during this time some progress has been achieved, there is still a long way to go.

Eurocare believes that the EU can play a crucial role and would like to call on the Commission to continue its efforts to support Member States to reduce the prevalence of FASD by, for example:

- Supporting spread of information, through the introduction of compulsory health messages on containers of alcoholic drinks describing the harmful effects of drinking during pregnancy, through programmes to enhance knowledge of health care professionals or through comprehensive and permanent awareness-raising campaigns and educational programmes for the public at large.

-Supporting research to understand mechanisms and prevalence of FASD, and to develop evidence-based interventions for prevention, diagnosis and management

-Supporting the sharing of information and best practice among experts and policymakers

Second European conference on FASD

Professionals and families concerned with FASD shouldn’t miss the 2nd European Conference on FASD that will be held in Barcelona on 21-24 October 2012. This conference is being organized by The European FASD Alliance (EUFASD).

The main goal of this conference is to bring together European researchers, public health workers, FASD related NGOs and parents in order to share latest knowledge and promote collaborations. More information.

Events around Europe

To mark the international FASD awareness day, organizations around Europe will hold events to draw attention to the fact that a healthy pregnancy involves no alcoholic drinks. Here are a few examples of the planned events:

-In France several actions are taking place, In Nord-Pas-de-Calais several awareness and education events aimed at professionals, the general public, adolescents and young people will be held from 6 to 15 September www.saffrance.com. On Reunion Island, the accent will be on raising awareness among young people, with an all-day alcohol-free party with music and dancing on the theme “To have fun, you don’t have to be drunk.” More information at http://www.reunisaf.fr/

-In the Netherlands, the FAS Foundation is holding the first-ever family weekend on September 8 to 9. Parents of about 50 children with FASD will meet to hear from professionals about raising their children with FASD and to share experiences. A recreational program is planned for the children. More information at www.fasstichting.nl

-The German Federal Drug Commission has put the spotlight on FASD the whole month of September http://drogenbeauftragte.de. The organization FASD Germany is also planning their annual FASD conference for parents and professionals, to be held in the end of September. http://www.fasd-fachtagung.de/

-In the UK, the FASD Trust aims to encourage women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy with a poster campaign. The posters can be printed out and posted in community centers, doctor’s offices, churches, and places of work. More information at http://www.fasdtrust.co.uk/cp4.php

-In Italy, the results from a follow-up study on babies prenatally exposed to alcohol will be presented to the media on the 9th September. The study used eight 16-month-old babies that tested positive for prenatal exposure to alcohol (using meconium biomarkers) and eight that tested negative. The results of the study show that those who tested positive had significantly poorer motor and eye - hand coordination skills and scored lower on the communication and socialization subscales.

The Local Health Authority of Treviso organized an event on Facebook, called "FASD day: diciamolo insieme" (FASD Day, let's say it together). All the Facebook friends of the Mamma Beve Bimbo Beve campaign are invited to put the image of the campaign in their profile on 9th September, and to share it with their friends. This event will also be “viralized” through Twitter. During this event, the videos made during the 2012 edition of the campaign (M’ama Day) will be shown. In these videos citizens send prevention messages on FASD.