Fast Facts

FASD is a medical diagnosis that describes the range of brain injuries, birth defects and developmental disabilities that can result when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.



The estimated prevalence rate for FASD among the general Canadian population is four per cent, which amounts to more than 1,480,000 Canadians. (1)

Forty per cent of Albertans report knowing someone with FASD, many acting as caregivers

FASD costs the Canadian economy an estimated $9.7 billion each year due to increased health care, education and other needs, as well as lost productivity; the total cost of FASD in Alberta is estimated at $970 million per year. (2)


FASD affects individuals differently with a range of symptoms, some of which are readily visible, others of which are not. Common effects experienced by children and adults living with FASD include:

  • Learning and memory difficulties

  • Speech and language problems

  • Impulsive behaviour

  • Sensory challenges

  • Motor skill and physical difficulties.

There is no cure for FASD. It is a lifelong condition; however, with proper diagnosis and support many individuals living with FASD lead full and healthy lives.

Dispelling Myths & Misinformation

Myth #1

FASD occurs only when mothers are alcoholics or binge drinkers. Drinking in moderation during pregnancy is safe.

The Facts:  

For decades, international medical consensus has remained unchanged: there is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, nor is there a “safe time” to drink alcohol during pregnancy. If you are or may be pregnant, no alcohol is the safest choice.

Myth #2

FASD is readily apparent from a person’s looks.

The Facts:  

Research shows there is only a short period during pregnancy when alcohol exposure affects facial development. The majority of people with FASD show no physical symptoms of disability. That’s why FASD is often referred to as an “invisible disability.”

Myth #3

Behaviour is a choice. People with FASD just need to try harder.

The Facts:  

Behaviours associated with FASD are symptoms of a brain-based disability. People who live with FASD need our understanding and support. With FASD, it's not about trying harder; it's about trying differently.

Myth #4

FASD affects children and adolescents. Adults don’t have it.

The Facts

FASD is a permanent, life-long disability that affects individuals from birth to old age. There is no cure for FASD; however, with proper diagnosis and support many individuals living with FASD lead full and healthy lives.

Myth #5

A father's alcohol consumption prior to conception can cause FASD.

The Facts

While this is not true, expectant fathers and those around an expecting mother can play a key role in prevention by supporting her in the decision not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.