- Mental Health Commission has developed a new Alcohol.Think Again public education campaign about pregnancy
- New research shows 1 in 3 women unsure whether it is safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy
A new public education campaign launches today to inform the Western Australian community about the risk to babies from alcohol use during pregnancy.
The campaign's key message of "any amount a mother drinks, the baby drinks" challenges the inaccurate belief that a mother's placenta protects a developing baby from alcohol.
If a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the blood alcohol level of the baby is similar to that of the mother, with research showing that even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful.
In December 2020, the National Health and Medical Research Council strengthened the advice relating to pregnancy in the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.
The Council now recommends that women who are pregnant and planning pregnancy should not drink alcohol.
Recent research undertaken by the Mental Health Commission found most women believe alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy; however:
- 1 in 3 women reported being unsure how much alcohol is okay to drink during pregnancy; and
- 15 per cent of women in WA reported drinking alcohol in their last pregnancy.
Prenatal exposure to alcohol can damage the baby's brain, resulting in severe and permanent physical, mental and behavioural disabilities, known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
There is concern that as many as 2 per cent of all Australian babies may be born with some form of FASD.
The new campaign is part of a broader Preventing FASD Project, announced in March 2020 with the release of the McGowan Government's Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing.
Other strategies as part of the Project include new training that has commenced to assist health workers to engage in meaningful and appropriate conversations about alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD prevention, and a new data system to help identify high-risk communities and support targeted action across the State.
The campaign's media strategy is led by State-wide TV and supported by cinema, radio, out-of-home advertising, digital and social advertising, and paid search.
Visit http://www.alcoholthinkagain.com.au for more information, including where to go if you are concerned and tips to support pregnant women to stay alcohol-free.
For anyone concerned about their own or a loved one's alcohol or drug use, the Alcohol and Drug Support Line is available 24 hours a day for information and support on 08 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 (Country).
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"We are committed to giving Western Australian babies the best start in life. Partners, friends and family all have a role to play in supporting and promoting healthy pregnancies.
"With up to 2 per cent of all babies born every year with some form of FASD, this campaign is crucial to the health of future West Australians.
"Alcohol causes harm in our community, including cancer, other diseases and injuries and staying within the guidelines is important to our health and wellbeing - for all of us."
Minister's office - 6552 6500