CanFASD meets with Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

CanFASD had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, as well as members of her staff and senior staff from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the need for a National FASD Strategy.

Mental Health, FASD, and the National FASD Strategy

CanFASD highlighted the increased risk of mental health and addictions issues for individuals with FASD and the need for programs and supports that are FASD-informed.  Ninety percent of individuals with FASD experience mental health challenges.  When unsupported, individuals with FASD experience many difficulties, highlighting the need for a National FASD Strategy.

Minister Bennett understood this completely. She recognized the complexities of FASD and understood how a National FASD Strategy would help break down the silos in our field, address FASD prevention, and improve outcomes for individuals and their families.

Discrepancy in funding for FASD

CanFASD highlighted the large discrepancies in awareness and funding support between autism and FASD, with autism receiving over $15 million in the last federal budget (including $7 million to support a National Autism Strategy).  Comparatively, FASD receives 1.5 million annually through the National Strategic Projects Fund, which funds a few sporadic projects across the country. Autism affects approximately 1.5% of Canadians. FASD affects at least 4%.

Minister Bennett and her team committed to working with the government and with CanFASD to get support for a National FASD Strategy to improve outcomes for individuals with FASD and their families.

Help us bring forward a National FASD Strategy

Show your support by asking Minister Bennett to commit to a National Strategy for FASD in Canada. You can email the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health at mhaminister.ministresmd@hc-sc.gc.ca.

Want to go one step further? Email your Member of Parliament (MP) to talk about the impact of FASD on you and your community and ask them to support a National FASD Strategy. Look here to find out who your local MP is. If you do meet with your MP, let us know at info@canfasd.ca so we can make sure to keep the conversation going.

Not sure where to start? Fill out this short form and we will help you connect with your MP and give you some key points to focus on.

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2022/06/22/canfasd-meets-with-minister-of-mental-health-and-addictions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=canfasd-meets-with-minister-of-mental-health-and-addictions



Rettreived from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220608/Pregnant-womens-alcohol-use-correlates-with-their-partners-drinking-habits.aspx

Source:University of Eastern Finland (UEF Viestintä)

Journal reference:

Voutilainen, T., Rysä, J., Keski-Nisula, L. & Kärkkäinen, O. (2022) Self-reported alcohol consumption of pregnant women and their partners correlates both before and during pregnancy: A cohort study with 21,472 singleton pregnancies. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 46, 797- 808. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.14806

Pregnant women’s use of alcohol correlates with that of their partner, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital shows. Paying attention to both parents’ use of alcohol may help to prevent drinking during pregnancy, as well as fetal exposure to the adverse effects of alcohol.

Exposure to alcohol is detrimental to fetal development, and there is no known safe limit of exposure. The harmful effects of alcohol may manifest during the child’s development and growth in many ways. The risk of alcohol use during pregnancy has previously been assessed mainly on the basis of the expectant mother’s previous use of alcohol, but not on the basis of their partner’s drinking habits.

The new study looked at the alcohol consumption of 14,822 Finnish women and their partners before and during pregnancy. The study covered a total of 21,472 pregnancies between 2009 and 2018.

In 86% of the pregnancies, the expectant mother reported having used alcohol before pregnancy, and 4.5% also during pregnancy. In 25% of the pregnancies, women reported that they had stopped drinking only after learning about their pregnancy, which means that the fetus may have been exposed to alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy. However, partners generally did not reduce their alcohol consumption before or during pregnancy.

Click here to read the full article.

Retrieved from: https://preventionconversation.org/2022/06/09/pregnant-womens-alcohol-use-correlates-with-their-partners-drinking-habits/



Understanding fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

The estimated prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Canada is greater than that of autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome combined, and the incremental cost per case of FASD over a person’s lifespan is estimated at $1.1 million.1

FASD is a lifelong disability that impacts the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. Individuals frequently have challenges in their daily living and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, emotional regulation and social skills.2,3 Emerging evidence suggests that FASD is also associated with chronic disease and mental health disorders and adverse societal experiences.4,5 When undiagnosed and unsupported, individuals with FASD are more likely to experience substance use challenges, mental health conditions, involvement with the criminal justice and child welfare systems, emotional and physical abuse, trauma and disrupted housing.6

FASD occurs within a web of increased risk and vulnerabilities. All populations that use alcohol are at risk for FASD, yet we still do not understand the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, or FASD, in Canada.


Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/06/06/editorial-alcohol-use-during-pregnancy-and-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-in-canada-who-what-where%ef%bf%bc/



No amount of cannabis exposure is safe during pregnancy, according to our latest report, Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Cannabis Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. Until the effects of prenatal cannabis exposure are well understood, the safest option is to avoid using cannabis. But surveys show that while cannabis is the second-most common psychoactive substance used during pregnancy (after alcohol), many pregnant or nursing people haven’t talked with their healthcare providers about the risks.


We recently shared a poster, Is It OK to Use Cannabis During Pregnancy and While Breastfeeding?, to increase public awareness about the health effects and potential risks.

Now the full report is available, with new findings that support and expand our understanding of this issue. It helps healthcare providers increase their understanding of the latest clinical evidence, so they can advise patients, and improve the health and well-being of patients and their children. The report also helps researchers understand gaps in the knowledge needed to support harm reduction efforts for this population.

Key findings include:

  • The effects of cannabis can be passed onto the fetus through the placenta and onto the baby through breastmilk, and can impact the baby’s mental and physical development.
    • Use during pregnancy may be associated with babies being born too small and too early.
    • Exposure to cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding can interfere with the baby’s attention, memory and reasoning abilities, behaviour and processing of emotions, and problem-solving skills.
    • Exposure can increase the baby’s risk of hyperactivity, impulsive behaviours and sleep disorders.
  • Growing evidence from human and animal studies shows that paternal cannabis use can also negatively affect children’s neurodevelopment.
  • The effects of CBD use during pregnancy or breastfeeding are unknown. Both clinical and preclinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety of CBD use during pregnancy.
  • There is not enough evidence to support using any form of cannabis to treat the negative symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, vomiting and pain.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding people should have informed discussions with their healthcare providers about the potential adverse effects of cannabis to help them make informed and healthy choices.



Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/05/27/ccsa-cannabis-use-during-pregnancy-breastfeeding/



Webinar Registration

NCCIH Webinar – Visioning the Future: First Nations, Inuit, & Métis Population and Public Health Series – Environmental and Mental Health


Jun 20, 2022 11:00 AM in Edmonton


This webinar takes a holistic approach to considering Indigenous health. Such an approach looks into and beyond the physical environmental factors affecting Indigenous Peoples’ health to include the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual landscapes that influence their overall well-being.

In this webinar, Dr. Shannon Waters will examine the impact of the disrupted relationship between Indigenous Peoples and place (land, water, animals, plants) on the health of the land and all living beings. She will consider best practices for re-establishing Indigenous Peoples’ connection to and ownership/co-governance of the natural environment. Dr. Chris Mushquash will present ways in which historical and ongoing processes of colonization have disrupted Indigenous Peoples’ health and mental wellness. He will examine a full spectrum of culturally and contextually appropriate supports and services to promote Indigenous Peoples’ mental health.

More about the Visioning the Future Series:

Visioning the Future is a series of webinars offering a vision for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples’ public health. These webinars are a development of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health’s 2021 publication, Visioning the Future: First Nations, Inuit, & Métis Population and Public Health, a collaborative report offering a vision for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples’ public health. Privileging Indigenous knowledges, the commissioned report complements the Chief Public Health Officer’s 2021 public health vision report, A Vision to Transform Canada’s Public Health System.

Click here to register.

Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/05/24/nccih-webinar-visioning-the-future-first-nations-inuit-metis-population-and-public-health-series-environmental-and-mental-health/



A new report from the World Health Organization highlights the increasing use of sophisticated online marketing techniques for alcohol and the need for more effective regulation. It shows that young people and heavy drinkers are increasingly targeted by alcohol advertising, often to the detriment of their health.

Reducing the harm from alcohol – by regulating cross-border alcohol marketing, advertising and promotion is the first report from WHO to detail the full extent of the way that alcohol is today being marketed across national borders – often by digital means – and in many cases regardless of the social, economic or cultural environment in receiving countries.

Worldwide, 3 million people die each year as a result of harmful use of alcohol – one every 10 seconds – representing about 5% of all deaths. A disproportionate number of these alcohol–related deaths occur among younger people, with 13.5% of all deaths among those who are 20–39 years of age being alcohol-related.

“Alcohol robs young people, their families and societies of their lives and potential,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Yet despite the clear risks to health, controls on the marketing of alcohol are much weaker than for other psychoactive products. Better, well enforced and more consistent regulation of alcohol marketing would both save and improve young lives across the world.”

A digital revolution in marketing and promotion

One of the biggest changes in recent years to alcohol marketing is the use of sophisticated online marketing. The collection and analysis of data on users’ habits and preferences by global Internet providers has created new and growing opportunities for alcohol marketers to target messages to specific groups across national borders. Targeted advertising on social media is especially effective at using such data, with its impact strengthened by social influencers and sharing of posts between social media users.

One data source quoted in the report calculated that over 70% of media spending of leading alcohol marketers based in the USA in 2019 was through promotions, product placement and online advertisements in social media.

“The rising importance of digital media means that alcohol marketing has become increasingly cross-border”, said Dag Rekve of the Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Unit at the World Health Organization. “This makes it more difficult for countries that are regulating alcohol marketing to effectively control it in their jurisdictions. More collaboration between countries in this area is needed.”

Click here to read the full article.

Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news/item/10-05-2022-who-highlights-glaring-gaps-in-regulation-of-alcohol-marketing-across-borders


This comprehensive report details the full extent of the way that alcohol is being marketed across national borders – often by digital means – and often regardless of the social, economic or cultural environment in receiving countries. It highlights how increasingly sophisticated advertising and promotion techniques, including linking alcohol brands to sports and cultural activities, sponsorships and use of e-mails, SMS and social media, are being used to increase customer loyalty and gain new customers. It shows that young people and heavy drinkers are increasingly targeted by  alcohol advertising, often to the detriment of their health, and highlights the need for more effective national regulations and better international collaboration.


Executive summary:  Arabic | Chinese |  English | French | Spanish

Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/05/18/who-highlights-glaring-gaps-in-regulation-of-alcohol-marketing-across-borders/


Upcoming CanFASD Webinars

Brain and Behaviour Changes with Low PAE

We have three webinars coming up in the next few weeks as part of our CanFASD Webinar Series. Read on to learn more!

Emerging Research in Action: CanFASD Trainee Webinar Series Part 1

Friday May 27, 2022 at 1:00pm EDT

The CanFASD Trainee program is a new initiative helping students and early career researchers across Canada become more engaged in and knowledgeable about FASD research and initiatives. Led by Dr. Kelly Harding, the trainees have had the opportunity to advance their skill sets and learn from the CanFASD Network.

Split across two webinar (May 27th and June 3rd), the eight trainees will now present on a research project that has recently been completed or is under way. This is a chance for you to learn what the next generation of Canadian FASD researchers are accomplishing, to hear new research findings, and to look forward to forthcoming study results.

May 27th presentations will feature Ella Huber, Sarah Moss, Chantel Ritter, and Devon and will be hosted by Dr. Kelly Harding. Register now.

Brain and Behaviour Changes with Low PAE

Wednesday June 1, 2022 at 3:00pm EDT

Recently, Dr. Xiangyu Long and Dr. Catherine Lebel published new evidence on the impact that low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure have on children. They used MRI images and parental reports of behaviour to show that even “low” levels of prenatal alcohol exposure (i.e. an average of one drink per week) resulted in weaker brain connectivity and more problematic behaviour compared to children without alcohol exposure.

In this webinar, Drs. Lebel and Long will be presenting on their newly published research, which has big implications for policy and practices. This webinar is hosted in partnership with the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute. Register now. 

Emerging Research in Action: CanFASD Trainee Webinar Series Part 2

Friday June 3, 2022 at 1:00pm EDT

In our second part of the Trainee Webinar Series, Shae Mulvihill, Celisse Bibr, Kirsten Morrisson, and Vannesa Joly will present on new and emerging research they are working on. This is a chance for you to learn what the next generation of Canadian FASD researchers are accomplishing, to hear new research findings, and to look forward to forthcoming study results. Register now.


Free Movie for National Access Ability Week in Canada (May 31, 2022)-Voices of Albertans with Disabilities

2022 marks the 6th annual National Access Ability Week in Canada. Voices of Albertans with Disabilities (VAD) is excited to host screenings of the Oscar Nominated Film Crip Camp. 

Grande Prairie! We invite you to join us on May 31, 2022 for a FREE movie at the Douglas J. Cardinal Performing Arts Centre (in Northwest Polytechnic). Doors will open at 6:30 PM and the movie will start at 7:00 pm. In order to best accommodate you, we do ask that you register ahead of time.  Tickets are limited.

Please select the ‘seating accommodation required’ if you will have an attendant, or require specific seating arrangements.

More information can be found on the event page: bit.ly/NAAWGrandePrairie

Watch the Crip Camp Official Trailer here!

Please email accessibility@vadsociety.ca if you have any other accessibility and accommodation needs, have trouble registering or have any questions.