Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a brain injury that can occur when an unborn baby is exposed to alcohol. It’s a lifelong disorder with effects that include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities. These can vary from mild to severe.
FASD is caused when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is not hereditary. FASD can affect anyone. No single group has been proven to be at higher risk for drinking alcohol during pregnancy than any other group.
However, FASD is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability in Canada:
- If you’re planning a pregnancy, the best thing to do is to stop drinking alcohol in advance of your pregnancy.
- If you aren’t planning a pregnancy, you can help prevent FASD by properly using condoms, contraceptive pills or other contraception.
- Some pregnancies are not planned, and you may have been drinking alcohol before you knew you were pregnant. Once you find out you’re pregnant, it’s best to stop drinking alcohol immediately.
To learn more about FASD, its causes, signs and symptoms, its health effects, prevention, support and get information for professionals, consult the Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) Web page.