DrinkWise research advises mums-to-be to abstain from alcohol
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DrinkWise and medical practitioners have joined forces to advise women to abstain from alcohol when planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy and breastfeeding ahead of International FASD Awareness Day on 9 September.
New DrinkWise research revealed that more than nine out of ten Australians (91%) agree that it is safer not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy, with that figure increasing to 94% for females aged 18-44 years-old.*
Of those Australian women aged 18-44, 87% said no amount of alcohol should be consumed during any stage of pregnancy*, which is significantly higher than previous years (82% in 2022, 76% in 2019*).
While the statistics are trending in the right direction, education efforts are important as only 58%* of Australians are aware that FASD is 100% preventable.
Obstetrician Dr Vicki Carson believes all Australians need to know that FASD is a 100% preventable condition that can cause irreparable damage but can be prevented by making the choice to not drink alcohol when trying to conceive, when pregnant or when breastfeeding.
“Prenatal exposure to alcohol can reduce the size and weight of the fetal brain. It can also directly damage regions of a baby’s brain that are critical for learning, memory, behaviour, language and decision-making,” said Dr Carson.
Dr Carson, who has seen the devastating effects of alcohol on new-born babies first-hand, is lending her voice to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the lead up to International FASD Awareness Day.
“We do know the importance of education and the critical role doctors, obstetricians and midwives play, which is why I encourage all my colleagues to remind their pregnant patients that there’s no proven safe amount of alcohol which can be consumed while planning for a baby, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether during these times.”
“When I see a couple who already has one child affected by FASD, the most common reason I hear is that they didn’t know to avoid or abstain from alcohol during pregnancy or they thought a little bit wouldn’t hurt. And that’s just a reminder how important this campaign is,” Dr Carson added.
DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan acknowledged that while rates of abstinence throughout pregnancy were trending in the right direction there is still a lot more to be done to increase awareness.
“It’s great that more and more Australian women are understanding that they shouldn’t be consuming alcohol if they are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding, but it is critical that we continue education campaigns that can help deliver this important health message.
“Our research also showed that 55% of partners would encourage their loved ones not to drink when trying to conceive, when pregnant or when breastfeeding. Just over half of all partners (51%) would also stop drinking alcohol altogether and 40% would drink zero alcohol products to support their partners during this important time.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see more partners are supporting women to abstain from alcohol during their pregnancy journey. This message to abstain from alcohol when planning a pregnancy, when pregnant and when breastfeeding, isn’t just for expectant mothers, it’s for partners, families and the wider community to understand and support too.
“DrinkWise is committed to providing ongoing education and support to ensure that all Australians know that FASD is 100% preventable.” Strahan said.
Australian Diamonds Netball star and nutritionist, Gretel Bueta has partnered with DrinkWise to remind women to avoid alcohol when planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The partnership comes only weeks after she announced the birth of her second child.
“As a new mum-of-two, I’m so grateful that my boys were born happy and healthy. With my background in nutrition and through consulting with doctors and doing the research, I knew you just shouldn’t be drinking when you are trying to conceive, when you actually fall pregnant and while you’re breastfeeding.
“Not drinking during this time was a really easy choice for me. I know a healthy baby is never a given and I wanted to give my babies the best possible start in life and me the best possible start to life as a mum. I knew not drinking through the entire pregnancy and breastfeeding journey is one thing I could do to give our baby every chance to thrive.
“I’m really happy to be working with DrinkWise to support this message, as it’s important everyone knows about FASD, including friends and family who can support pregnant women to abstain from alcohol. I was lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive community – Niko, my husband, my family and my netball family. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I’m lucky I have a great village.
“I think most people know to avoid alcohol when they are pregnant but maybe they’re not so aware of the specifics of FASD, so I’m happy to be lending my voice to this campaign to help bring awareness and encourage other mums and mums-to-be to not drink alcohol when they are trying for a baby, when they’re pregnant or when they are breastfeeding,” said Bueta.
DrinkWise is an evidence-based social change organisation dedicated to changing the Australian drinking culture to one that is safer and healthier. We do this through national education campaigns, partnerships with community leaders and organisations, and the development of practical strategies and resources that better support the community in relation to the responsible use of alcohol. DrinkWise is funded through voluntary industry contributions across the alcohol sector and has previously been in receipt of funding from both Coalition and Labor governments.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL FASD AWARENESS DAY
International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is a global initiative designed to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who are affected or have been impacted by the disorder. September 9th was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol.