FASD Awareness Day 2016: Focus on Social Media

Since 1999, FASD activists have held World FASD Awareness Day events on 09/09 to represent the nine months of pregnancy, often highlighted with a bell ringing ceremony at 9:09 am. September 9, 2016 is approaching, and this year activists want to use social media because it provides a unique and far-reaching means of building awareness.

You can help build FASD awareness by posting a message, reposting theirs, or bringing attention to their events on your own social media accounts.

FASD Awareness Day Share with CanFASD


This year Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (CanFASD) is providing an online forum for organizations to post their initiatives on the CanFASD website. Include a description and a picture or video and they will re-post and Tweet it out to all of their followers. You can post using #FASDAwarenessDay #CanFASD and win prizes.

The Executive Director of CanFASD , Audrey McFarlane says “ CanFASD is very pleased to be able to highlight the fantastic work that the local communities are doing to raise awareness of FASD on September 9 as the local FASD service providers and caregivers are the hardworking folks that manage this work everyday.”

United States

NOFAS US has developed a FASD Awareness Day Packet for 2016 to assist organizations with planning activities for the month of September – FASD Awareness Month.

Their social media campaign includes:

  • A Twitter Chat using the hashtag #FASDMonth as well as offering tweets you can use to send out to others.
  • A one-time message commemorating FASD Awareness Day can be posted to your social media accounts using ThunderClap – a crowd-speaking platform using social media. Learn more here.
  • A campaign to create a video that will feature an inflatable globe being “passed” around the world. Click here to learn more about the campaign.

New Zealand

The University of Auckland is hosting a FASD Policy and Research Forum starting at 9 a.m. on FASD Awareness Day. Find out more here. To find more information, links, and downloads from New Zealand, visit the Fetal Alcohol Network NZ and the Ako Aotearoa learning website for the Pregnancy and Alcohol Cessation Toolkit for providers.


NOFAS Australia is encouraging people to take a pledge not drink on Sept 9 and to post it on social media as a way to spread the word about FASD.

Also on the Pregnancy Birth & Baby website, there is a call to join the Pregnant Pause Campaign for FASD Awareness Day.

United Kingdom

The FASD Trust is asking people to get involved in a number of ways – raising awareness in school using the Trust’s School Pack, writing their MP. Click here to see their efforts.

To learn more about the history of FASD Awareness Day and get more ideas for events, click on FASD Awareness Day website.

Is your group, organization, or country planning a FASD Awareness Day event? Please share them in the Comments section below.

Previous postings about FASD Awareness Day

Today is International FASD Awareness Day, September 9, 2015

Today is International FASD Awareness Day, September 9, 2014

FASD prevention needs to begin before pregnancy: findings from the US National Survey of Family Growth


Most interventions and programs to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy focus on encouraging pregnant women to abstain from alcohol use. However, one of the most consistent predictors of alcohol use during pregnancy is women’s drinking patterns before pregnancy. As well, a large majority of women have been drinking alcohol for many years prior to getting pregnant.

A recent journal article published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal (April 2015) looks at data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States to estimate the number of women during a one month period who are at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. (An “alcohol-exposed pregnancy” means that a woman is drinking alcohol, sexually active and not using contraception).

The study found that during a one-month period, nearly 2 million women in the United States were at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including 600,000 who were binge drinking. This translates to 3.4%, or 1 in 30, non-pregnant women being at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

Interestingly, being at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy was not clearly associated with most demographic and behavioral characteristics (e.g., income level, tobacco use, ethnicity, education level, etc).

That said, women in this study who were planning to get pregnant were the ones who were at highest risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy – because they often continue to drink until they find our they are pregnant (and thus exposing the fetus to alcohol for several weeks or even months).

As a recent report on alcohol use in OECD countries describes how rates of alcohol use (including binge drinking) continue to rise in young women in many parts of the world. This suggests the importance of strategies to improve women’s overall health in relation to alcohol (e.g., emphasizing a culture of moderation with low risk drinking guidelines) and FASD prevention activities that target alcohol and contraception use prior to pregnancy and in the preconception period.


Cannon, M.J., Guo, J., Denny, C.H., Green, P.P., Miracle, H., Sniezek, J.E., Floyd, R.L. (2015). Prevalence and Characteristics of Women at Risk for an Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) in the United States: Estimates from the National Survey of Family Growth. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19:776–782. DOI 10.1007/s10995-014-1563-3.

text4baby program in the United States: can text messaging be an effective alcohol brief intervention?


Health interventions using mobile phones and related technologies are growing worldwide and some research is suggesting that text messaging can be one strategy to support behaviour change in areas ranging from quitting smoking to HIV testing to healthy living.

The text4baby program launched in the United States in February 2010 and has enrolled more than 700,000 participants. The service delivers text messages to pregnant women and new mothers on a schedule timed to the baby’s due date or birth date.


There have been a number of studies evaluating the program (see here) and the program is expanding to include dads. A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research mhealth and uhealth takes a closer look at the effects of the program in the context of the US military by conducting a randomized trial with pregnant female soldiers and family members. One of the key questions the researchers were interested in was alcohol consumption: “Since you found out about your pregnancy, have you consumed alcoholic beverages?”

In total, there were six messages related to risks of alcohol consumption, including both recommendations not to drink and warnings about the risk of FASD. The researchers found a dose-response relationship, with higher levels of text message exposure predicting lower self-reported alcohol consumption. The text4baby participants also reported lower quantities of alcohol consumed postpartum.

This study suggests that text messaging can be an effective brief intervention for addressing prenatal alcohol use. For more on this topic, see an earlier post: Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby Text Messaging Service in Tanzania (December 17, 2013).


Evans, W., Nielsen, P.E., Szekely, D.R., Bihm, J.W., Murray, E.A., Snider, J., and Abroms, L.C. (2015). Dose-Response Effects of the Text4baby Mobile Health Program: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth uHealth, 3(1):e12. DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.3909. PMID: 25630361. (Open Access)

Will classism and racism doom FASD prevention efforts?

'Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Racial and Social Class Bias I Psychology Today'

Dr. Ira J. Chasnoff has an interesting piece on the Psychology Today blog called “Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Racial and Social Class Bias.” (December 9, 2014)

Dr. Chasnoff looks at current class and race dynamics in the United States and how they influence the ways women interpret risks related to alcohol consumption during pregnancy and how physicians and other health care providers focus on screening and intervening with certain groups of women only.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that white, college-educated, middle to upper class women are the most likely group to drink during pregnancy. And while research has shown that in many contexts white and African American women use alcohol and illicit drugs at exactly the same rates – physicians still select pregnant women for drug testing based on race and social class – sometimes 10 times more frequently.

Chasnoff comments:

“This is why current prevention campaigns don’t work. These campaigns fail because they focus on informing people about the risk of alcohol use in pregnancy.  However, it is no longer an issue of ignorance; at a cognitive level, most people recognize the potential danger of alcohol use during pregnancy. Prevention efforts fail because the information applies to “them,” not “us.” And as long as attitudes of specialness within middle to upper class men and women hold, as long as physicians continue to deny that alcohol use in pregnancy is a universal problem affecting a significant portion of children across all walks of life in this country, prevention campaigns will continue to fall short.”

 Read the full article on Psychology Today.

cosmo article

Family Spirit Home Visiting Program in American Indian Communities Reduces Drug Use in Pregnant Teens


In partnership with the Navajo, White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Tribes, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has been conducting three successive randomized controlled trials to assess the Family Spirit intervention’s impact on parenting and maternal and child health and behavior outcomes.

Research findings from the third and largest trial were published last month and provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of home visiting programs on a range of outcomes.

In the most recent study, 322 pregnant teens were randomly assigned to receive optimized standard care — transportation to prenatal and well-baby clinic visits, pamphlets about childcare, and other resources and referrals to local services — or optimized standard care plus a program of 63 in-home education sessions, known as Family Spirit.

In the Family Spirit intervention, home visits occurred weekly through the last trimester of pregnancy, biweekly until four months after the baby’s birth, monthly from months four through 12, and then bimonthly until the child turned three. A key to the program’s success was utilizing local community health workers instead of more formally educated nurses.

Before beginning the study, the researchers noted that the teens had high rates of substance use in their lifetime (more than 84 percent). The researchers found that mothers in the Family Spirit group were less likely to use illegal drugs, be depressed, or experience behavior problems than those in the control group.

Read more about the study on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website.

Read the study abstract on PubMed or download the full study from The American Journal of Psychiatry.

For more on home visiting programs and FASD prevention, see earlier posts:


Barlow, A., Mullany, B., Neault, N., Goklish, N., Billy, T., Hastings, R., Lorenzo, S., Kee, C., Lake, K., Redmond, C., Carter, A., Walkup, J.T. (2014). Paraprofessional-Delivered Home-Visiting Intervention for American Indian Teen Mothers and Children: 3-Year Outcomes From a Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14030332. [Epub ahead of print]

Power for the Future: The Role of Native American Women in FASD Prevention

'First Peoples Worldwide

First Peoples Worldwide is an international organization dedicated to promoting Indigenous economic determination and strengthening Indigenous communities through asset control and the dissemination of knowledge. Britnae Purdy recently wrote an article on the organization’s blog called “Alcoholism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the Native American Woman” (August 14, 2014).

The article discusses the introduction of alcohol in Native American communities, the prevalence of alcohol misuse in certain communities, the causes and effects of FASD, and approaches to intervention.

The article ends with a call for action and suggests some of the unique ways  Native American women can be involved in supporting the health of their communities and preventing FASD.

Read the article here. For more on the role of indigenous women in FASD prevention, see earlier posts:

Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices from the CDC

Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use -

This new resource from the Centers for Disease Control in the United States describes alcohol screening and brief intervention as a “critical clinical preventive service.”

Alcohol screening and brief intervention identifies and helps patients who may be drinking too much. It involves:

  1. A validated set of screening questions to identify patients’ drinking patterns
  2. A short conversation with patients who are drinking too much, and for patients with severe risk, a referral with a wide range of other health and social problems, to specialized treatment as warranted

This guide is designed to help an individual or small planning team in a variety of primary care settings to adapt alcohol screening and brief interventions to their unique operational realities. It provides a series of steps to help plan, implement, and continually improve alcohol screening and brief interventions as a routine element of standard practice.

Discussion of alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD can be found throughout the guide.

For more on screening in primary care settings, see previous posts:




Upcoming FASD Prevention Webinars from The Arc – July 10 & July 17, 2014

The Arc FASD Prevention Project

The Arc is a community-based organization in the United States advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

The Arc has initiated an FASD Prevention Project to create and disseminate culturally competent written and video materials, host webinars, peer learning communities, deliver conference presentations, and develop a CE course. The project is a national initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a $1.3 million Cooperative Agreement.

There are two upcoming webinars on different aspects of FASD prevention:

Screening and Brief Alcohol Intervention: Effective Mechanisms to Prevent FASDs

Thu, July 10, 2pm – 3pm EST

The adverse effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy have been widely reported, and represent a leading preventable cause of physical and cognitive birth defects in the United States. Screening and Brief Alcohol Intervention (SBI) is an effective mechanism to reduce the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy in sexually active women who drink and do not use effective contraception. This webinar will focus on the prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) through SBI. An overview of SBI will be provided followed by effective evidence-based models that can be readily accessed for current practice.

Modifying FASD Prevention Strategies for Individuals with an FASD

Thu, July 17, 2pm – 3pm EST

This webinar will provide information on the provision of effective interventions for individuals with an FASD. Our focus will be on the importance of identifying individuals with a possible FASD to modify approaches in the home, educational, treatment, housing, and other settings to help reduce the incidence of alcohol exposed pregnancies. Learn how and why evidence based practices in the prevention of alcohol exposed pregnancies may need to be modified for those with an FASD.





FASD Webinar Series from the American Academy of Pediatrics – July 16, 28, Aug 13, 27 2014


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—via its Program to Enhance the Health and Development of Infants and Children—is offering a series of four 30-minute educational webinars focused on raising awareness of primary care clinicians regarding the diagnosis and treatment for children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). The first webinar also addresses common media misconceptions about alcohol use during pregnancy.

Myths, Media and the Medical Home

Faculty: Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, FAAP

The myths, media and the medical home session will highlight common media misconceptions about alcohol use during pregnancy, provide a clinical overview of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and most importantly discuss the role of medical home providers in identifying and managing children with FASDs.

Date/Time: July 16, 2014 at 3 pm ET (30 minutes)
Register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/384023014

Detection, Discovery and Diagnosis

 Faculty: Yasmin Senturias, MD, FAAP

The detection, discovery and diagnosis session will delineate the signs and symptoms that may indicate prenatal alcohol exposure and a possible condition along the continuum of FASDs. An algorithm for evaluation of FASDs will be introduced and discussed as a tool for diagnosis and referral in primary care. Information about various diagnostic tools will also be shared.

Date/Time: July 28, 2014 at 3 pm ET (30 minutes)
Register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/513539294

Roles, Referrals and Reimbursement

 Faculty: David Wargowski, MD

The roles, referrals and reimbursement session will provide primary care clinicians with the tools they need to work with families and children who have or may have an FASDs. Dr Wargowski will identify the appropriate professionals needed to build an FASD team and discuss options for community based resources for referral and treatment. Billing, coding and reimbursement will also be discussed.

Date/Time: August 13, 2014 at 3 pm ET (30 minutes)
Register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/187514118

Communication, Care Coordination and Co-management

Faculty: Phillip John Matthias, MD, FAAP and Ira Chasnoff, MD

The communication, care coordination and co-management session will confirm the importance of a medical home and its role in working with patients and families. Drs Matthias and Chasnoff will review the development of comprehensive care plans and present several case studies to demonstrate different approaches to care coordination and co-management.

Date/Time: August 27, 2014 at 3 pm ET (30 minutes)
Register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/500923542

For more information about the webinars, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website here.

The website also includes a section with prevention resources for pediatricians. Two of the ways that pediatricians can be involved in FASD prevention is through brief interventions with women in their practice who may have consumed alcohol during a previous pregnancy and with youth in their practice who are sexually active and/or consuming alcohol.


advise mothers on subsequent pregnancies and (2) advise adolescents about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. – See more at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders-toolkit/Pages/Prevention-Education-and-Counseling.aspx#sthash.HNyEiIMF.dpuf

Alcohol Use During Pregnancy in the United States

Findings from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2011-12)

Survey finds ongoing concerns with alcohol use during pregnancy - January 2014

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently released their Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.

With respect to alcohol use during pregnancy, the survey found:

  • Overall, about 8.5% of pregnant women reported having a drink of alcohol in the past 30 days, and 2.7 % reported binge drinking.
  • 18% of pregnant women age 15 to 44 reported at least some consumption of alcohol during their first trimester; almost 7% reported an episode of binge drinking (five or more drinks within a couple of hours) during their first trimester
  • Alcohol use dropped to around 4% among women in their second and third trimesters
  • Young pregnant girls were at the greatest risk of an alcohol-affected pregnancy, with 13% of pregnant girls between 15 and 17 years of age reporting they drank in the past 30 days. Among pregnant women in the 18-25 and 26-44 age groups, between 7-9% reported some alcohol use, with 2-3% reporting binge drinking.

The findings suggest that most women stop using alcohol once they learn they are pregnant. They also suggest that supporting younger women in avoiding an unplanned pregnancy or in considering stopping or reducing their alcohol use when planning to become pregnant could be another key message in FASD prevention efforts.

Read an interview with researchers Margaret Mattson and Rachel Lipari on the FASD Centre of Excellence website.

For more on alcohol use during pregnancy in the United States, see earlier posts: