Di­nosaurs help fight fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - COMING UP - DAILY HER­ALD STAFF

Can a pur­ple di­nosaur help raise aware­ness about the dan­gers of drink­ing dur­ing preg­nancy?

That’s the hope of the Saskatchewan Preven­tion In­sti­tute, a group ded­i­cated to fight­ing fe­tal al­co­hol spec­trum dis­or­der (FASD) and other dis­abling child­hood con­di­tions. They’re putting the colour­ful rep­tile on T-shirts to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the sci­ence be­hind the dis­or­der.

The cam­paign hinges on the term “ter­ato­gen,” and its al­leged like­ness to saurian names like tricer­atops, iguan­odon and diplodocus.

“The word ter­ato­gen sounds like the name of a di­nosaur and the catchy t-shirt and poster should at­tract at­ten­tion,” Mar­lene Dray, an FASD preven­tion co­or­di­na­tor, was quoted as say­ing in a press re­lease.

In re­al­ity, the term refers to any sub­stance that can in­ter­fere with a de­vel­op­ing embryo or fe­tus, par­tic­u­larly by caus­ing birth de­fects.

“Al­co­hol is an equal op­por­tu­nity ter­ato­gen,” the in­sti­tute said in a press re­lease. “When al­co­hol is used in any preg­nancy, it reaches the un­born baby. It can harm fe­tal de­vel­op­ment and cause dam­age to what­ever part of the baby is de­vel­op­ing at that time.”

“Harm to the brain can cause prob­lems with the sen­sory sys­tem, learning, at­ten­tion, be­hav­iour, and mak­ing friends.”

The T-shirts will show up at cam­paign events like bar­be­cues and walks, the in­sti­tute said, along with non-al­co­holic cock­tails – what they call “mock­tails.”

Based on past re­search, the in­sti­tute es­ti­mates that roughly four per cent of Cana­di­ans have suf­fered some harm be­cause of pre­na­tal al­co­hol ex­po­sure. They ad­vise moth­ers who are plan­ning a preg­nancy to ab­stain from al­co­hol. Bev Drew, an­other preven­tion co­or­di­na­tor, re­marked that “it’s never too late to stop drink­ing.”

“Ev­ery day with­out al­co­hol gives a baby a bet­ter chance to be healthy.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Noreen Agrey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Saskatchewan Preven­tion In­sti­tute (left), and Bev Drew, FASD preven­tion co­or­di­na­tor, try on the di­nosaur shirts

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