Integration of Data on Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a permanent disability that affects the brain and body of people exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. People often struggle with daily tasks and require assistance with their motor skills, physical well-being, learning, memory, emotional control, and social skills. FASD is thought to be more common in Canada than Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy put together. Over a person’s lifetime, FASD is thought to add $1.1 million to healthcare expenses per case.

There are many factors that contribute to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), so it’s important that we have a thorough grasp of the problem and its context if we’re going to effectively address it. Canada has made great strides, and today we are at the forefront of FASD study in many respects. However, reporting on the national prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD is made more difficult by the disjointed nature of our health system, which includes differences in data collection and sharing across jurisdictions.

There is mounting evidence that links FASD to adversity in early life, chronic health problems, and emotional distress. Information on alcohol consumption, including that of pregnant women, is ready to be collected by provincial databases. It is essential that these inquiries become a part of the normal workflow of medical professionals. Similarly, it would be useful if perinatal forms were standardized. Accurate national data can be captured and reported on by further developing the National FASD Database.