September is FASD Awareness Month, with 9 September acknowledged as International FASD Awareness Day. The month-long campaign recognises the importance of staying alcohol-free during pregnancy, breastfeeding and planning a pregnancy. Online community events on FASD day and during the month provide opportunities to raise awareness and give voice and support to those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.
What is FASD?
FASD is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. FASD is a type of acquired brain injury that is caused when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. People with FASD typically experience challenges in their daily living and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills to reach their full potential. FASD is a hidden disability, as 80-90% of children with FASD show no visible signs and can often go undiagnosed.
In Australia an estimated 60% of pregnancies are exposed to alcohol, often before the parents are aware that they have conceived. An increasing body of research highlights the risks of even small amounts of alcohol to a developing foetus, with the most severe outcome being FASD. For more information on FASD visit NOFASD Australia’s
Alcohol and pregnancy
The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, which were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), recommend that no alcohol is the safest option while pregnant, planning a pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.” – NHMRC, Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol
Healthy pregnancies are not the sole responsibility of women. A fathers’ alcohol consumption impacts the health of his developing baby, and partners play a strong role in supporting alcohol-free pregnancy. Ceasing alcohol use together has been proven to be the most effective way to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Find out more about the history of FASD Awareness Day and follow National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia (NOFASD Australia) on Facebook to learn more about events and activities.
Read Busting the myths on alcohol and breastfeeding on the impact of alcohol during breastfeeding.
If you're struggling to cut down your alcohol consumption, help is available – and it's free! The Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service is a telephone-based coaching service that provides NSW residents over 18 with a free personal health coach to guide and support them during their pregnancy. You can speak to a Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service coach by calling 1300 806 258 or sign up online.
For Aboriginal people
Dedicated resources for Aboriginal women and their families are available on Your Room. For quick guides, resources and videos on how to stay off alcohol during pregnancy and the role family and friends play in supporting a pregnant woman, take a look at the Yarning about Alcohol + Pregnancy resources on Your Room.
For health information and content about pregnancy, having a young baby and how alcohol during pregnancy can affect a baby's development check out the Stay Strong and Healthy Facebook page.
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on
1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a
Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.