Stigma is one of the biggest barriers to preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and supporting those with this disorder.
Substance use and addiction are highly stigmatized, particularly for women who use substances during pregnancy. Women who use substances or have substance use concerns during pregnancy can experience multiple forms of stigma. This may include stigma from their own internalized beliefs, a lack of understanding from health and social service professionals, and a lack of systems in place to help women reduce or abstain from alcohol use in pregnancy.
Five-Part Prevention Seminar Series
In 2022, CanFASD sponsored a five-part prevention seminar series. This series brought 14 researchers together from around the world to share what is known about preventing alcohol use during pregnancy and supporting women’s health.
The first part of the series, Destigmatizing Considerations: Preventing FASD, Promoting Women’s Wellness, dives into the research on stigma, FASD, and alcohol use in pregnancy. It features leading researchers Dr. Patrick Corrigan and former Sterling Clarren Award Winner, Dr. John Aspler.
Dr. Patrick Corrigan is a psychology professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and principal investigator at the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment in the United States. In this seminar, he shares his research on the impacts of stigma surrounding FASD and women’s alcohol use.
Dr. John Aspler has a PhD in neuroscience/ethics. His presentation provides an overview of several components of his research focused on stigma, including:
- What Canadians know about FASD, alcohol use and pregnancy;
- What stakeholders think about FASD coverage in Canada; and
- What we should do to address stigma associated with both FASD and alcohol use in pregnancy.
Their research demonstrates the importance of understanding and reducing the stigma women experience as a key FASD prevention strategy.