Health Canada needs to take the lead when it comes to preventing and treating peoplesuffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a new national strategy says.

TheFASD report, tabled in the House of Commons onMonday, says a comprehensive plan is needed because many federal departments are grappling with the effects of the disorder.

'They are not Down syndrome. They are not mentally ill. Where do they fit in? How do you get help for them?' — Yellowknife counsellor Diane Miller

"The committee wants the public to understand clearly that there is no known safe threshold of alcohol that can be consumed during a pregnancy without the possibility of harm to a developing fetus," it says.

"It desires an emphasis on messages focused on preconception as well as after conception, on abstinence from alcohol if thinking about pregnancy or if possibly pregnant."

The committeerecommends:

  • More education to prevent women from drinking during pregnancy.
  • More support to help people living with FASD.
  • More research on FASD in Canada.

Churchill MP Tina Keeper, who helped form the report, said FASD is a huge challenge foraboriginal communities across the country.

"There needs to be definitely more education around prevention,"Keeper said. "That's really important because the impacts can be far greater than we understand."

More research is also needed into alcohol consumption and fetal development, she said.

Yellowknife drug and alcohol counsellor Diane Miller saidhousing is a big problem for people with FASD in the N.W.T. capital.

"They are not Down syndrome. They are not mentally ill. Where do they fit in? How do you get help for them?"