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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Why we need to fight against FASD

Date posted: 23 January 2014

Dr James Fitzpatrick, paediatrician, Pregnant pause champion and former Young Australian of the Year, explains why he believes so strongly in the Pregnant pause campaign.

'My experience of working with people living with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) has been as a children's doctor in remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia (WA).

'Back in 2008, I met a young child and his mother in a remote clinic. The 16-month-old had not yet learned any words, nor had he the strength to stand. He was delayed in all areas of development. He had the classic facial features of Fetal alcohol syndrome - small eye openings, a thin upper lip and smooth area between the lip and nose. His mother had lived a terribly hard life with abuse and trauma her frequent companion.

'Since meeting this mother and her child, I have worked with committed community organisations and research partners to lead a clinical team in remote communities, helping to diagnose people with FASD, and to provide advice to teachers and families on how to help them to be the best they can be.
While the focus of my work is in WA, FASD, the leading preventable cause of non-genetic intellectual disability in Australia, is really an issue for all Australians.

'A commonly stated reason for women drinking in pregnancy includes having a partner who drinks. As men we can respect the period of pregnancy as the one shot at developing our child's brain before birth, a nine month opportunity where the vast majority of brain and body organ development happens.

'We can respect our partners by supporting them lovingly through nature's most challenging emotional and physical time - pregnancy ... let's take a break from drinking for nine months while our partner is pregnant. In doing so, we will be at our best, and allow our child be born at their best.'

Source: Essential Baby


Last updated: 25 March 2014
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