Sudbury

Northern Ontario community groups holding FASD conference in Sudbury

Organizers with several Sudbury community groups are holding a conference about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.

Health Canada says approximately 3,000 babies are born with FASD each year

The 10th annual Anishnabek G7 FASD conference is being held in Sudbury, the city the event started in 10 years ago. The theme of the conference is 'Honouring our roots.' (Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre)

A conference is underway in Greater Sudbury about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder — and organizers hope to shine a light on FASD. 

According to Health Canada, FASD is one of the most common causes of birth defects and disabilities in the country, with an estImated 300,000 people currently living with the disorder. 

FASD is caused by exposure to alcohol before birth. People with the disorder can experience symptoms ranging from brain damage to vision and hearing difficulties, and often, the signs and symptoms go undetected.

Kelly Oreskovich, one of the event's organizers, said the goal of the conference is to provide education on FASD to front-line workers and families. 

"Even though FASD is more prevalent than many, more commonly known disorders or developmental disabilities, there is very little generalized knowledge about it," Oreskovich said. 

Fran Pine, another of the event's organizers, said the theme this year is "honouring our roots."

"We got some bursary funding through Health Canada... so we could bring in some families," Pine said. "That's what kind of makes our conference unique, is the fact that we do encourage families to come out that are affected by this."

Pine said they received funding to allow 16 families to attend the conference. That money came from Health Canada through a policy called Jordan's Principle, which makes sure all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them.

"That's not only within lay people but within frontline workers and health care professionals," she said. "And so the conference tries to tap into everything that all audiences:  families, frontline workers, health care professionals will be coming to learn more about [FASD]."

The two day event begins Wednesday February 26 and continues until February 27. 

For more information on the conference, or to find out how to register, contact Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre at www.skhc.ca

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