The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health, supported the introduction of this new guideline on alcohol in pregnancy by saying in a press release: "Our Government recognizes the significant toll Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder has on Canadian families and society. The new consensus clinical practice guidelines spell out that no alcohol is the safest choice during pregnancy to help Canadian mothers of today and tomorrow have healthier birth outcomes."
The new guideline is featured in the August edition of Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada and is being developed by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), and endorsed by the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM), the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women's Health Nurses (CAPWHN), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), Motherisk, and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC).
When it comes to alcohol use and pregnancy some health-care providers are uncomfortable about questioning their clients while others believe that screening for alcohol use is beyond their practice's scope.
"While abstinence is the best choice for a woman who is or might become pregnant, it is not always a feasible option for a woman who has become substance dependent. We must be ready to encourage and offer harm reduction and treatment strategies for these women," said Dr. Gideon Koren, Director of the Motherisk Program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.
When it comes to drinking and pregnancy there is no safe time. Protocols for health-care workers need to be the same across Canada said Dr. Pascal Croteau, vice-president, Quebec section of the SRPC.
The new guideline would help find ways to broach the subject of drinking and pregnancy for health-care workers. It will allow women a safe environment to report alcohol consumption. With the stigma still attached to substance abuse for women this is a true need.
"The need for all practitioners to engage in respectful and thorough prenatal care with women while working to reduce harm for the fetus is essential. These guidelines provide both of these directions, respect for women and harm reduction." stated Ms. Gisela Becker, President of the Canadian Association of Midwives in a press release.