FASD Intervention Newsletter from the Canada FASD Research Network


The Intervention Network Action Team (iNAT) of the Canada FASD Research Network focuses on research and knowledge translation in FASD interventions.

Check out the team’s 14th newsletter here and visit the FASD Intervention blog here. This newsletter includes interviews with folks working on the Caribbean Quest intervention program that aims to improve attention and working memory as well as information about the Strongest Families Research program.

The Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy Blog is 4 years old today!


Yes, that’s right, the Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy blog is 4 years old today!

Thank you to everyone who reads our blog for your continuing support. There were over 40,000 visits from you lovely people from all over the world (as you can see in the map below).

Year 4 map

Just in case you’re interested, here are the top 10 most viewed posts since July 2013.

  1. Postcolonial Theory for Beginners
  2. Films from the Lililwan Project: Tristan and Marulu
  3. Pregnancy and Alcohol Brochure for Aboriginal Families
  4. Streetworks’ Supports for Homeless Pregnant Women project
  5. “Alcohol? Know Your Limit” campaign from Germany
  6. Alcohol Think Again Campaign in Western Australia
  7. Do concerns about alcohol use during pregnancy lead women to consider having an abortion?
  8. FASD Prevention in South Africa
  9. FASD Prevention in France
  10. Psychological distress and maternal drinking: exploring the context of risk for FASD

Here are some of my favorite posts for the year (based on newsworthiness, interest, and other unquantifiable factors).

  1. Honouring Our Strengths: Culture as Intervention in Addictions Treatment (June 5, 2014)
  2. How Men Can Help Prevent FASD (March 11, 2014)
  3. Impact Evaluation of the Healthy, Empowered and Resilient (H.E.R.) Pregnancy Program in Edmonton, Alberta (February 7, 2014)
  4. Cancer and Alcohol: Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (January 27, 2014)
  5. Advice for Journalists Reporting on FASD (November 18, 2013)

This blog is an initiative of the Canada FASD Research Network. Learn more about our activities by visiting our website.

How Men Can Help Prevent FASD


Because FASD prevention initiatives often focus on alcohol and pregnancy, people often have questions about how men can get involved.

Researchers and service providers who are part of the Canada FASD Research Network have created a two-page information sheet with some suggestions for men who want to make a difference.

For more on men and FASD prevention, see earlier posts:

FASD Prevention Research and Knowledge Translation: Developing a Pan-Canadian Agenda Workshop


Last week, the Canada FASD Research Network hosted “FASD Prevention Research and Knowledge Translation: Developing a Pan-Canadian Agenda Workshop” in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The event received news coverage in The Star Phoenix: More education on fetal alcohol effects needed (January 21, 2014).

The coverage also led to a series of editorials with a range of perspectives:


Legal Measures to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Video on Legal Issues and FASD Prevention now available

Legal Measures to Prevent FASD

In September 2013, the Institute of Health Economics (IHE) held the first-ever Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD in Edmonton, Alberta.

The three-day conference examined issues such as:

  • What are the implications of FASD for the legal system?
  • Is there a need for enhanced efforts to identify people with FASD and how can these efforts be achieved?
  • How can the criminal justice system respond more effectively to those with FASD?
  • How can family courts and the family/child welfare legal system address the specific needs of people with FASD?
  • What are the best practices for guardianship, trusteeship and social support in a legal context?
  • What legal measures are there in different jurisdictions to contribute to the prevention of FASD and what are the ethical and economic implications of these measures?

Nancy Poole, Director of Research and Knowledge Translation at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and FASD Prevention Team Lead with the Canada FASD Research Network, gave a fantastic 30 minute presentation called “Legal measures to contribute to prevention of FASD, effectiveness and ethical issues. Some of the issues that she addresses are:

  • Alcohol and pregnancy warning labels
  • Measures to ban selling or serving alcohol to pregnant women
  • Interventions targeted at pregnant women with addictions
  • Measures related to contraception, and
  • Compulsory testing of pregnant women for alcohol

Some of the issues discussed following the presentation included the importance of alcohol brief interventions by health care providers, involving men in FASD prevention, subsidizing long-acting contraception, targeted vs. universal interventions, the relationship between women’s empowerment and successful FASD prevention, and the broader context of alcohol consumption in society.


Some of the themes from this presentation can be found in the Consensus Statement developed following the conference.

The 2013 Consensus Statement on Legal Issues of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) was produced by a distinguished jury led by the Honourable Ian Binnie, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and includes a range of recommendations calling for changes to the way people with FASD are dealt with by the legal system in Canada. Recommendations related to FASD prevention (p. 35) included:

59. Develop a comprehensive FASD prevention strategy for Canada.

60. Develop gender-specific programs and create opportunities for women and men to discuss with their health care provider relationship issues, child care, and alcohol consumption.

61. Prevention programs should focus on those areas in which positive effects have been demonstrated. In particular, it may be worthwhile to examine interventions involving the mother-child unit. Such approaches might help reduce the likelihood of subsequent children with FASD after a child is found to suffer from an intellectual impairment or neurological disorder such as FASD.

62. Develop evidence-based mandatory training programs for front-line workers on how to talk to women in a secure, non-threatening fashion about the underlying causes of alcohol consumption

Videos from the entire conference are available for viewing on the IHE website here.

Emily Oster’s new book “Expecting Better” challenged by FASD experts


Economist Emily Oster’s new book Expecting Better: Why The Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-and What You Really Need To Know started getting a fair amount of media attention even before it was released a couple of weeks ago.

Oster reviews and challenges pregnancy advice ranging  from alcohol and caffeine use to bed rest and drug safety. On the topic of alcohol use during pregnancy, she concludes that light and occasional drinking during pregnancy is acceptable.

Check out the response of the Canada FASD Research Network: “Emily Oster’s ‘Expecting Better’ Puts Countless Unborn Children at Risk.” Dr. Cook, Executive Director of CanFASD, was also interviewed in Why some pregnant women are ignoring conventional wisdom and having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (The National Post, August 30, 2013).

The controversy related to Oster’s book has also brought some attention to women and alcohol issues in general. Check out this great piece from The Huffington Post: 7 Things You Need To Know About Women And Alcohol (September 3, 2013).

7 Things You Need To Know About Women And Alcohol' - www_huffingtonpost_com

Summer newsletter from the Canada FASD Research Network’s Intervention Network Action Team (iNAT)


The Canada FASD Research Network has network action teams in the areas of FASD prevention, intervention, diagnostics, and prevalence. (This blog is a project of the prevention Network Action Team).

The Intervention Network Action Team (iNAT) has a summer newsletter which you can view here. The newsletter takes a look at new research that uses physical activity and video games to improve functioning in children with FASD, examines the cost of specialized addiction treatment of clients with FASD in Canada, and lists upcoming events related to FASD intervention.

The iNAT also has an interactive information and intervention website, KnowFASD, and a  KnowFASD Wiki about specific FASD intervention options. Also, be sure to check out the iNAT’s FASD Interventions Across the Lifespan blog here.


Canada FASD Research Network – What has the Network Action Team on FASD Prevention been up to this year?

NAT activities 2012-2013

The Canada FASD Research Network (CanFASD) is Canada’s first comprehensive national FASD research network and has been in operation since 2005. Members of CanFASD are currently leading over 25 major projects related to FASD prevention, intervention and diagnostics.

You can take a look at the 2012-2013 CanFASD annual report here, but I thought the word cloud above was a good summary of some of the activities that the Network Action Team (NAT) on FASD Prevention from a Women’s Health Determinants Perspective has been involved with over the past year.

The Prevention Network Action Team includes over 65 members from across Canada who meet monthly via webmeetings to share information on individual work and to plan collaborations on research projects, practice improvements,  policy advocacy and knowledge exchange.

This year, the group has been involved in leading eight research projects and collaborating on a number of others. Key topics include:

  • Investigation of patterns and trends of alcohol consumption by women of child bearing years
  • Alcohol warning labels as a strategy for FASD prevention
  • Community perspectives on FASD prevention in Dene and Inuit communities in NWT
  • Indigenous culture as an intervention for people with substance use problems
  • Building an evaluation framework for community-based FASD programs
  • Responding to the mental health needs of northern women with housing and related health concerns
  • Community perspectives on interventions to support pregnant and parenting women facing substance use and related challenges in Victoria, BC
  • Approaches to the support of women and neonates in neonatal intensive care units

Other activities have included maintaining a blog on FASD prevention (which you’re reading right now!) and a resource called Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women Who use Substances: What Communities are Doing to Help. In this resource, members from four programs for women at high risk of having a child affected by FASD in Edmonton, Surrey, Victoria, and Winnipeg shared ideas about how communities can effectively respond to women’s needs and develop holistic and integrated services.

Pages from what-communities-are-doing-to-help_feb-2013

HerWay Home Program for Pregnant Women and New Mothers in Victoria, BC

New program addresses maternal alcohol and drug use with a range of services under one roof

After six years of planning and research by a volunteer committee of 30 experts, community organizations, advocates and educators, the HerWay Home program began working with women and children on January 7, 2013.

Located in the James Bay Community Project, HerWay Home is a child-focused, women-centred, family-oriented drop-in and outreach program for pregnant women and new moms with substance use challenges and their children.

Women do not need a referral to access the program. The program expects to work with about 70 women in the first year and 100 to 150 in the second year. Currently, there are four staff members who support women accessing a range of services to meet their individual needs. Services include meals during drop-in hours, grocery store food vouchers, health care during and after pregnancy, alcohol, drug and mental-health support, and parenting support.

Read the press release (February 8, 2013) from the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island here. Check out the news coverage New Victoria program helps new moms with addictions (Cindy E. Harnett, Feb 7, 2013).

For more on HerWay Home, see earlier post: Herway Home ‘one-stop access’ program in Victoria set to open (May 20, 2012).

Learn more about the development of HerWay Home and similar programs across Canada in Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women Who Use Substances: What Communities Are Doing to Help by members of the Canada FASD Research Network.



The 5th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Special Session on FASD Prevention


The 5th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is being held February 27 – March 2, 2013 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

If you’re attending the conference, you might be interested in a new evening session that has just been announced.

Shining a Light on Canada’s Multi-layered Approach on FASD Prevention

Thursday, February 28 (5:30 – 8:30pm at The Westin Bayshore)

FASD prevention involves much more than providing information about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy. Over the past two decades, Canada has developed a multi-layered approach to FASD prevention. This session will use current examples of FASD-related policies, programs, and initiatives from across Canada.

After providing an overview of the different levels of FASD prevention, the session will highlight the perspectives and work of individuals working in a range of contexts, including government, university and community-based research, program development and service provision, community advocacy, municipal and provincial alcohol policy development.

The session will include highlights from individuals working across Canada, opportunities for networking and dialogue, and group exercises to stimulate reflection and integration of key ideas and principles. Learn more about registering for the session here.

As well, members of the Canada FASD Research Network will be presenting on prevention-related work throughout the conference.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Session A2

Who Drinks Alcohol during Pregnancy? How Results from a Universal Screening Program can Inform Policy and Practice (Ana Hanlon-Dearman and Holly Gammon)

Patterns of Alcohol Use Among Women of Childbearing Years in Canada: Implications for FASD Prevention (Gerald Thomas and Nancy Poole)

Session A4

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Among Women Who Have FASD (Therese M Grant, Dan Dubovsky, Nancy L Whitney)

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Session C6

Evaluating Community-based FASD Prevention and FASD Support Programs Phase Two: Promising Approaches, Frameworks and Resources (Deborah Rutman, Nancy Poole, Carol Hubberstey, Sharon Hume, Marilyn van Bibber)

Friday, March 1, 2013


Session E2

The Politics of Alcohol and Pregnancy Campaigns (Nancy Poole and Tasnim Nathoo)

Session E5

Brightening Our Home Fires: The Application of Photovoice as a Means of Community Engagement in FASD Prevention (Dorothy E Badry, Arlene Hache, Amy Salmon, Aileen Wight Felske)


Session F4 (A4 repeated)

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Among Women Who Have FASD (Therese M Grant, Dan Dubovsky, Nancy L Whitney)

Webcasts and presentations from the 4th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder are available on-line. You can also take a look at earlier posts: