Alcohol causes more harm to the fetus than other drugs
It does not matter what type of alcohol is consumed, it immediately crosses into the baby’s bloodstream via the placenta and adversely impacts normal development.
Alcohol is recognised as the ‘heavy hitter’ causing more damage to the fetus than other recreational substances such as tobacco, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or marijuana.
There is no 'safe' level of alcohol use in pregnancy
Drinking to intoxication places a developing embryo and fetus at the greatest risk of harm. However, medical research has not been able to establish a safe amount that all pregnant women can drink and there are studies showing harm at very low level. Therefore, ther advice of many health authorities across the world is - Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant, could be pregnant or when breastfeeding.
For more information, check out HPA's alcohol.org.nz website -
- Drinking advice for women who could be pregnant, are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant - https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/alcohol-and-pregnancy/what-you-need-to-know
- Alcohol & pregnancy - https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/alcohol-pregnancy
New Zealand has an FASD Action Plan
In 2016, the Government took steps to develop New Zealand’s first FASD Action Plan ‘Taking Action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 2016-2019 – An Action Plan’. (FASD Working Group 2016).
The Plan is a multiagency approach across health, justice, and social sectors to guide policy and service delivery within communities to prevent FASD and improve outcomes for those affected by it.
The plan targets early intervention with those thought to be at high-risk of drinking during pregnancy.
Changes to the drinking environment to reduce alcohol availability were not included in the plan. It is well-known that the wider drinking culture is a strong determinant of the prevalence of drinking during pregnancy. Therefore, we need to take a multi-pronged approach to reduce the harm from FASD.
Although improvements have been occurring regarding FASD diagnosis, children with significant learning and behaviour problems linked to prenatal alcohol exposure remain undiagnosed within our health services and ineligible for extra support. Families living with FASD remain ineligible for respite care.
Ministry of Education FASD Guide for teachers
The Ministry of Education have produced an Inclusive Education FASD Guide for teachers http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/fasd/.
There are two important components in preventing the harm from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder:
- Preventing FASD by supporting alcohol-free pregnancies
- Enabling effective and appropriate care for persons affected by FASD
There is strong evidence that both components are essential in reducing harm from this preventable disability. Click below to learn more or click the button for the Health Promotion Agency infosheet.