Dinosaurs help fight fetal alcohol syndrome
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.”
Noreen Agrey, executive director of the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute (left), and Bev Drew, FASD prevention coordinator, try on the dinosaur shirts