Meet FASD - the face of preventable disease

By Contributor
September 14th, 2012

By: Laranna Androsoff, winner FASD essay contest, 21 – 29 year category

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself – I am Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, also known as FASD. You may know me as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Partial FASD (pFAS) or Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND).

If a pregnant woman drinks any alcohol at any time during pregnancy, the alcohol will cross the placenta to the fetus. Alcohol is a teratogen, a substance that can harm a fetus. Alcohol damages the developing cells of the fetus. Because alcohol damages the developing brain and nervous system of a baby, FASD can trigger a variety of mental, physical, and developmental disabilities.

I am FASD, and I cannot be cured. I am the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability among Canadians. Approximately one percent of Canadians are affected by me.  I have lifelong impacts on individuals, their families and society as a whole. Yet, if mothers refrain from drinking during pregnancy, than the permanent complications associated with me will never affect anyone’s lives!

I am FASD, and if alcohol is ingested during pregnancy a child can be born with defects at birth or during development, which can vary from mild to severe. The most common physical effects of FASD are:

  • Central nervous system abnormalities which include delayed development, behavioural problems, or learning disabilities and intellectual problems. For instance, children with FASD may learn to speak or walk later than normal. Behavioural problems may include hyperactivity, nervousness, anxiety, and short attention spans.
  •  A specific pattern of facial malformations, which include short eye slits/drooping eyes, a thin upper lip, flattened cheekbones, and the absence of a typical groove between the upper lip and nose (philtrum).

A child with FASD may be smaller than normal for their age. From birth, the child may have a small head or be undersized. Other defects include malformation of internal organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Hearing problems or visual impairments may also occur.

I am FASD. Simply put, I am caused when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy and I cause permanent brain damage…just look at the difference between a healthy brain and the brain of a child with FASD…there is just no comparison!!!

In conclusion, the first six years of a child’s life is the most critical for their overall brain development, and yes that begins in the womb. I am FASD and I am 100% preventable. Please don’t drink during pregnancy!







Sept. 9 was Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day. The peer mentors of the Baby’s Best Chance program at Boundary Family and Individual Services chose to host an essay contest for youth to raise awareness and create involvement by a wider community in this important health issue. Funds for the prizes were provided by the YShift group of the Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary. This is the first in a series of essay winners that we will be publishing over the coming weeks.

Categories: GeneralHealth