Effects of drinking while pregnant largely ignored
Many of the audience at the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) workshop at Tui Ora on 9th September wore red shoes to support awareness of this important, but often overlooked, health issue.
The room was packed to hear FASD discussed by researcher Keriata Stuart who discussed her research into Māori women drinking during pregnancy. It was often intense pressures, and social factors that led women into rationalising drinking, or unsupportive partners encouraging women to have “just one drink”.
Solutions lay in the potential for whanau support to make positive change. “We can do so much without Government, we can support each other, we can see those women in the pubs and what help they need,” she said.
Consultant Paediatrician Dr Raimond Jacquemard and Anna Currie explained the difficulties and challenges of diagnosing FASD, which often presented with very complex factors and stressed the need for good documentation and thorough information gathering ahead of referral of potential cases.
Claire Gyde discussed her experience parenting her son with FASD, an experience filled with challenges, but also with rewards.She urged people in her situation to “actively and consciously look for the magic,” when working with those with FASD. Reframing what success looked like “We put the focus now on what he can do, not what he can’t do.” All speakers agreed that with New Zealand’s drinking culture strongly entrenched, this was an issue needing more support on many levels.
At 9.09am a minute’s silence was observed to symbolise the nine months of pregnancy in which to have a healthy baby - and to reflect on those already living with FASD. The 9 September is FASD awareness day.
For more information check out Tui Ora's article here