Canadian prevention specialists have identified four mutually reinforcing approaches as effective in delivering FASD prevention, linked to overall policy strategies. The four levels span general and specific practices that assist women to improve their health and the health of their children, with support from family, services and community.
Level 1 is about raising public awareness through campaigns and other broad awareness strategies. Public policy initiatives and health promotion activities supportive of girls’ and women’s health are also key to this level of prevention. The inclusion of a broad range of people at the community level is important to advancing social support and change.
Level 2 is about girls and women of childbearing years having the opportunity for safe discussions about alcohol and other substance use, reproductive health, contraception, pregnancy, and related health and social concerns, with health and social service providers.
Level 3 involves the provision of specialized, culturally safe and accessible support services for women with alcohol problems, histories of violence and trauma and related health concerns. These trauma-informed, harm-reduction-oriented recovery services are needed not only for pregnant women, but also before pregnancy and throughout the childbearing years.
Level 4 involves supporting new mothers to maintain healthy changes they have been able to make during pregnancy. Postpartum support for mothers who were not able to make significant changes in their substance use during pregnancy is also vital to assist them to continue to improve their health and social support, as well as the health of their children.
Supportive alcohol and child welfare policies are at the centre of the four mutually reinforcing levels of prevention. Evidence-based alcohol policies, when widely implemented, have considerable potential to reduce the health and social harms from alcohol, including influencing rates of FASD through each level. Alcohol policies are critical because they determine the availability of alcohol and other aspects of the environment in which decisions about drinking are made. It is also important that maternal/child health and substance use policies are in alignment with child welfare policy to ensure that care is wrapped around the mother-child unit, and women are not afraid to access care out of fear of losing custody.
Two Key Documents on FASD Prevention
These two consensus statements were created by prevention experts to guide FASD prevention work in Canada.
Consensus Statement on 10 Fundamental Components of FASD Prevention from a Women’s Health Determinants Perspective – This document weaves together a range of sources—women’s experiences, peer-reviewed research, published articles, as well as expert evidence—to create a clear message regarding the importance of FASD prevention from a women’s health determinants perspective. The fundamental components are in the process of being updated.
Consensus Statement: Eight Tenets for Enacting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #33 – These tenets were informed by principles of reconciliation to inform culturally safe service delivery to mothers, families, and communities; affirm cross-disciplinary action; and promote and ongoing and collaborative commitment to reconciliation.
For more information on FASD prevention visit:
- Canada FASD Research Network
- Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health
- FASD Evaluation
- Saskatchewan Prevention Institute
- Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
- FASD ONE
- Prevention Conversation
- Government of Manitoba FASD (including Project Choices and Insight Mentoring Programs)
- Ready or Not (Alberta Health Services)
- The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada