“We have talked a great deal about shame and blame and acknowledged that the lives of birth mothers and children with FASD are imbued with shame and blame at a fundamental level.

Shame comes from many places, including women’s knowing that they should not drink when they are pregnant and yet lacking the supports they need to keep from doing what we often refer to as “hurting your baby’ – as though this is something they do on purpose. Blame often comes from a woman’s acknowledgement that her children have disabilities or are experiencing problems at school or in the community that are attributable to her substance use.

When we think about what this means for prevention, we have to think that most of our prevention approaches have remained grounded in blame and shame, not just on an interpersonal level in interactions between women and individual service providers, but at a societal level. These approaches to FASD prevention have been shown repeatedly to be ineffective at reducing drinking among the highest-risk groups and result in many missed opportunities for providing supportive care.”

– Amy Salmon, Managing Director, Canada Northwest FASD Research Network, October 2009, FASD: Across the Lifespan Conference

Salmon, A. (2010).  “Strength and support: A women’s perspective.” In Jonsson, E., Dennett, L., Littlejohn, G., Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Across the Lifespan: Proceedings from an IHE Consensus Development Conference 2009. Videos of the full conference can viewed here. Hard copies of the book can be ordered from the Institute of Health Economics or downloaded as a PDF.