May 26, 2015


Prevention and solutions

Half in poll unsure what causes FASD

But 88% say don't drink alcohol if pregnant

Nearly nine in every 10 Manitobans has heard of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

But only half really know what causes it.

Those are the findings of a Probe Research poll done exclusively for the Winnipeg Free Press.

It found 89 per cent of Manitobans had heard of FASD but only 46 per cent strongly agreed that the only way to get FASD is if your mother drinks alcoholic beverages while pregnant.

Another 14 per cent agreed moderately with that statement, suggesting slight uncertainty about their answer, and another 24 per cent were neutral or unsure how to answer the question. Sixteen per cent disagreed completely.

Aboriginals and adult women under 35 were the most likely to know the only cause of FASD is maternal drinking, with 80 per cent agreeing strongly or moderately. Men and women over 55 years old were the least likely to know.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 16 - 30, 2010 and is considered accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The poll also found 54 per cent knew for certain FASD is a form of brain damage, and 22 per cent only moderately agreed. Nearly one-quarter of respondents didn't agree or were unsure.

In general, women were more knowledgeable about FASD than men, particularly women of child-bearing age.

Probe Research associate Curtis Brown said that is good because clearly, messages about the dangers of drinking while pregnant are getting across to some people.

"Women are more targeted by public education campaigns and those messages are reaching them," Brown said.

But he said the poll also shows there is a lot of work yet to do.

"There is still a pretty significant percentage of the population that doesn't agree (that you shouldn't drink while pregnant)," Brown said.

Three times since 1999, the Public Health Agency of Canada has conducted surveys about knowledge of FASD. It found a progressive improvement in knowledge about FASD and the harm of drinking while pregnant. In 1999, 64 per cent of Canadian men and 68 per cent of Canadian women surveyed said any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can harm a baby. Seven years later, that had improved to 68 per cent of men and 79 per cent of women.

The surveys, conducted by Environics, also found while most Canadians were aware of FASD, knowledge about what it is and what effects it has was far more limited.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2011 A6

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