Healthy Living in the North

FASD Awareness Day: September 9th

pregnant woman, health. dad, mom

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest choice is to drink no alcohol at all.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the term used to describe the range of harms that can result from alcohol use during pregnancy. At Northern Health, we are committed to supporting International FASD Awareness Day. This day 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. FASD can be prevented!

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest choice is to drink no alcohol at all.

Drinking alcohol at any point during a pregnancy can harm the baby because baby’s brain and nervous system are developing throughout the entire pregnancy. Alcohol’s effect on the developing brain can mean that children may have lifelong learning difficulties and problems with memory, reasoning and judgment.

What if I was drinking before I knew I was pregnant?

Having a small amount of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant is not likely to harm your baby. Quitting alcohol now and looking after your own health are the best ways to ensure that your baby is healthy. Pregnant women benefit from:

  • Lots of rest
  • Regular medical care
  • Healthy food
  • Supportive friends and family
  • Healthy recreation and physical activities
  • It is best to avoid cigarettes and other drugs during pregnancy, including alcohol

Tips for partners and friends of pregnant women

  • Have a non-alcohol drink option at parties or gatherings
  • Bring non-alcoholic drinks for outings
  • Hang out with people who don’t drink
  • Encourage women who are pregnant not to drink
  • Respect the decision made by pregnant women not to drink
  • Participate in recreational and physical activities with your pregnant friend or partner
  • For yourself, be aware of Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (ccsa.ca)

Where can I get more information and help?

If you need help to cut down or stop drinking, be sure to talk to someone. Friends, family or a doctor, midwife, nurse or counsellor can help. In addition, these are some great resources:

What are some ways you support families not to drink alcohol when mom is pregnant?

Sarah Brown

About Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown was born in Zambia, Africa and has lived and worked in many small rural communities across Canada. Prince George has been home for the past 20 years with her husband, two children, cat and dog. Sarah is a graduate of UNBC and a Public Health Nurse Practice Development Leader. She has many interests in the field of preventive public health. Sarah love’s being outdoors (even in the snow!) and is often out hiking, appreciating the beautiful trees, birds and blue skies of the north. Sarah is passionate about learning, reading, gardening & watercolor painting!

Share

The long-term toll of concussions

Andrea downhill skiing

Andrea Cochrane competes in downhill skiing – an activity that would result in several concussions and long-term health effects.

After learning about the Falls Across The Ages contest and concussion prevention week, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Laurie Cochrane, a fellow nurse, audiology technician, and retired Northern Health employee after 38 years of service.

Last year, Laurie shared with me her powerful and tragic story of how she lost her beautiful and athletic daughter, Andrea Cochrane. In her teens, Andrea was a downhill ski racer who suffered three concussions in eight months and two more as an adult during her working year as a geophysicist. Although a diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) could not be confirmed due to the poor integrity of the brain tissue received for research, Laurie had no doubt that her daughter’s concussions had altered her brain over time and led to symptoms resulting in the very sad and untimely death of her daughter in 2011.

Laurie’s story had a profound impact on me and I’ve learned a lot from her about the importance of taking sports falls and concussions very seriously. Laurie is a remarkable and passionate woman and I thank her for finding the strength to share her story and knowledge with me. Laurie was kind enough to answer some questions regarding concussion awareness.

What message do you have for people dealing with concussion injuries or for parents of children with concussion injuries?

The single most important thing I would like to convey about concussion injuries to parents, the person suffering the concussion, coaches, medical caregivers – everyone – is that concussions MUST be taken seriously. We know so much more now than we did even five years ago and it is vital that we inform ourselves and others about the potential for long-term effects of concussions. It is important to know that the term “concussion” does not mean what it used to mean to us years ago, when it was thought the effects were short-term and returning to the activity soon after was not a problem.  This is simply no longer the case and returning too soon creates the very real probability of another head injury. I wish with all my heart that we knew then (when my daughter suffered her concussions ski racing) what we know now. She may still be alive today.

What does “just a bump on the head” mean to you today?

 The statement “just a bump on the head” has such a different meaning to me now than it did even only a few years ago.  The knowledge that has been gained by dedicated research around the area of concussion tells us that you don’t even have to show signs of concussion to have suffered one! That is really something we need to pay attention to and use it as a huge red flag in our growing awareness around head injuries.

Is there anything else you would like to share with people about concussion prevention awareness?

Like most things, the more you inform yourself, the better you can protect and take care of yourself. If you are an athlete, be smart about concussions. As a parent or a coach, learn about the implications of concussions and the potential seriousness. Concussions affect the brain inside our skull – you can’t see the injury so obviously! Pay attention to head injuries as it could allow you to be active for many years to come, and indeed, even save your life.

To learn more about Andrea, please visit the Sports Legacy Institute.

For more information on concussion awareness and prevention, visit Northern Health’s concussion awareness and prevention page.

 

Sarah Brown

About Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown was born in Zambia, Africa and has lived and worked in many small rural communities across Canada. Prince George has been home for the past 20 years with her husband, two children, cat and dog. Sarah is a graduate of UNBC and a Public Health Nurse Practice Development Leader. She has many interests in the field of preventive public health. Sarah love’s being outdoors (even in the snow!) and is often out hiking, appreciating the beautiful trees, birds and blue skies of the north. Sarah is passionate about learning, reading, gardening & watercolor painting!

Share