Sup­port­ing nine months of sober

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

■ On the ninth day, of the ninth month, at nine min­utes past nine, the com­mu­nity in Roe­bourne joined thou­sands around the world to pause and re­flect on the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of Foetal Al­co­hol Spec­trum Dis­or­der.

This sym­bolic ges­ture rep­re­sents the nine months of preg­nancy, and aims to raise aware­ness about the ef­fects of con­sum­ing al­co­hol when preg­nant.

Mawarnkarra Health Ser­vice pro­gram man­ager Elaine Laraia said the time pro­vided women the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider an al­co­hol-free preg­nancy, and share this preven­tion mes­sage across the com­mu­nity. “With more than 40 staff, in­di­vid­u­als and gov­ern­ment agen­cies at­tend­ing it has been a great turnout,” she said.

“We have had a range of ac­tiv­i­ties and re­sources avail­able, such as videos, pam­phlets and stan­dard drink demon­stra­tions, fol­lowed by a com­mu­nity bar­be­cue.

“At the mo­ment Roe­bourne is be­ing pos­i­tive and would like to lead in terms of ac­knowl­edg­ing is­sues like FASD in the com­mu­nity.”

Reg­is­tered mid­wife Paula Do­herty had a unique way to ex­plain the idea be­hind FASD Aware­ness Day to the com­mu­nity, us­ing a short white rope to demon­strate the um­bil­i­cal con­nec­tion be­tween mother and her un­born child.

“To heighten in­ter­na­tional aware­ness of the dis­or­der, they came up with the idea of the reef knot,” she said. “When you do a reef knot, the cir­cle within rep­re­sents the preg­nant uterus, or the un­born ba­bies’ brain. The reef knot rep­re­sents the com­mu­nity sup­port­ing preg­nant women in not drink­ing... the tighter it is, the tighter and stronger the com­mu­nity.”

FASD can be de­bil­i­tat­ing for many suf­fer­ers who grow up with a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions in­clud­ing fa­cial ab­nor­mal­i­ties, growth de­fi­cien­cies, skele­tal de­for­mi­ties, or­gan de­for­mi­ties, cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem hand­i­caps and be­havioural prob­lems in later life.

Child health nurse Larissa Smart said in­creas­ing aware­ness of the vast spec­trum of dis­or­ders as­so­ci­ated with FASD was cru­cial to bet­ter di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment pro­grams.

Pic­ture: Court­ney Fowler

The com­mu­nity in Roe­bourne cel­e­brat­ing In­ter­na­tional FASD Aware­ness Day.

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