Re: “Substance abuse is cutting Yukoners’ lives short: Hanley” (The News, May 20)
It was interesting to me that this article about the ravages of alcohol use by Yukoners does not mention the brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.
In 2000, Dr. Frank Timmermans, the medical officer of health, stated that there were 24-25 babies born in Yukon each year with significant prenatal alcohol exposure. That would be an average of 6-7 per cent of babies born each year.
Because of poor access to diagnosis in Yukon, we will never know how many of those babies would have gone on to have an FASD diagnosis. However, we do know that that means that between 2000 and today in 2016, there are at least 360 people out there with that possibility.
In March of this year, Alberta’s Institute of Health Economics released research showing that the life expectancy for people with FASD in Alberta is 34 years of age. There is no reason to think that this would be any different in the Yukon, even though we are not able to replicate the study due to the lack of diagnostic records.
The leading causes of death for people with FASD were “external causes” (44 per cent) which include suicide, murder, violence, accidents, poisoning by illegal drugs and alcohol, etc. This research should become an impetus for targeted prevention of FASD and targeted service for people living with the brain damage of FASD to provide the structure, supervision and support they require.
I have been working in the field of FASD in the Yukon since 1973 and find it hard to believe that it is still not safe to live in Yukon with this disability.
Judy Pakozdy, BScN