If you hoist a drink at a bar or restaurant this holiday season, there may be a message beneath your glass or bottle.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit, along with its fetal alcohol community mobilization committee, is handing out coasters to willing bars and restaurants with a message reminding people that pregnancy and alcohol don't mix.
On one side is a picture of a pregnant woman with a message saying Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Be Safe: Have an Alcohol-Free Pregnancy. On the reverse side of the coaster is a cartoon drawing of a baby, saying “I'm Having What She's Having.”
Public health nurse Marilyn Lemon said it's a good time of year to get the message out, because holiday social events and alcohol often go hand in hand. It's not meant to make people feel guilty, she said, but “our message is no alcohol use during pregnancy.”
Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects, brain damage, and potentially lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). There is no known safe amount of alcohol for a woman to drink during pregnancy.
“Obviously the more alcohol they have, probably the severity will be increased, but there's nothing really that confirms what the amount is,” said Lemon.
Community mobilization committee chair Judith Ferguson likened it to playing Russian roulette. “You could have one drink and your child could be affected, or women could have major substance abuse problems and their child could be fine. You never know.”
According to Health Canada, 1% of births involve alcohol use, but in Grey-Bruce, that average jumps to 4%.
About 5,000 of the coasters have been printed and are being distributed across the two counties. It's the first time the health unit has undertaken this campaign.