World FASD Awareness Day falls on Friday 9 September. FASD is a lifelong neuro-developmental disability that can be caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol consumed during pregnancy is carried by the mother’s blood and passes to the baby through the umbilical cord.

You cannot see FASD, it is a hidden disability. The global prevalence of FASD in the general population is estimated to be 7.7 per 1000 population - that equate to just over 61 million people globally.

We are dedicating the week commencing 9 September to FASD awareness with interesting and insightful content shared throughout the week.

You never drink alone when you are pregnant

The theme of this year's campaign from FASD Ireland is 'You never drink alone when you are pregnant' to provide advice that if you are thinking of having a baby or are already pregnant, then you should stop drinking alcohol.

Did you know that:

  • on average, it takes 22 seconds for someone with FASD to process information?
  • only 10% of people with FASD have visible signs of facial dysmorphia.
  • one of the 428 conditions that may be associated with FASD is Hypermobility (Double Jointed)
  • the characteristics of FASD start to appear at the age of 5, and are fully recognisable by the age of 11


FASD is a hidden disability

We are highliting FASD in partnerhip with FASD Ireland. Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, welcomed the relationship with FASD Ireland:

“Through Tristan’s hard work and success with the Sunflower in Ireland, we are helping to fund and support people and families who are living with FASD.  FASD is a true hidden disability and very few people who have FASD will have any physical signs.  In Ireland, FASD affects 4.75% of the population, and globally, Ireland is the 3rd largest in terms of the number of people it affects.  The Sunflower will always support people whose disabilities may not be visible”.

FASD Ireland was established in Ennis, County Clare in September 2021 to be the ‘go to’ hub for everyone living with FASD, including families, carers, teachers, health care workers and the wider community across Ireland.

FASD Ireland is the sole distributor for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Let's talk about alcohol and pregnancy

FASD Ireland has a collaborative working agreement with the HSE Alcohol & Mental Health & Wellbeing Team. and would like to invite you to the HSE upcoming Webinar, Let’s Talk about Alcohol and Pregnancy taking place on 9 September from 12.30 – 13.45 for International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. This event is aimed at all health and social care professionals working with pregnant women and/or those planning a pregnancy. It will also be of interest to a wider audience such as those working in education, health promotion, and community development.

This webinar will explore how to effectively communicate about the risks of alcohol during pregnancy and have challenging conversations about alcohol and pregnancy. New videos demonstrating alcohol brief interventions with pregnant women will be launched.

Speakers include:
Caterina Georgi, Chief Executive Officer at Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Australia
Dr Mary O’Mahony, Consultant in Public Health Medicine
Professor Maeve Eogan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
Dr Hugh Gallagher, GP specialising in addiction medicine
Tanya Franciosa, Principal Medical Social Worker
Justin Gleeson, Drug Liaison Midwife
Maggie May, FASD Ireland


What is FASD?

FASD is a lifelong neuro-developmental disability and there is no known cure or treatment. It is an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that can be caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. There are 428 recognised co-morbid conditions associated with FASD.. Alcohol consumed during pregnancy is carried by the mother’s blood and passes to the baby through the umbilical cord.

Tristan Casson-Rennie, CEO of FASD Ireland and Regional Director, Ireland for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, said:

“We were honoured to have Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD and so many others involved with FASD attend our official opening. Minister Rabbitte’s speech recognising FASD as a disability gives hope to the many thousands of people in Ireland living with FASD. We have one simple message for Ireland - alcohol should not be consumed whilst pregnant.”

Find out more about FASD in our index about non-visible disabilities here

How common is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Ireland?

FASD is Ireland’s most prevealent, yet most preventable neuro-developmental disability. We estimate that 250,000 people living in Ireland today have FASD. In addition, we know that 82% of women in Ireland drink alcohol whilst pregnant.

According to figures published by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in 2017, it was estimated that approximately 600 babies are born each year in Ireland with FASD. We now expect that number has increased following Covid lockdowns – where alcohol comsumed in the home increased substantially - and is nearer 2,500 babies this year. Ireland ranks third out of 187 countries for prevalence of FASD, behind South Africa and Croatia.

So how can you help?

However big or small, your help moves us closer to a society where FASD is understood and people living with it are supported. Our wearers, members and supporters are the voice of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and we have put together a couple of ways you can help us to get the word out!

Red Shoes Rock

On World FASD Awareness Day, everyone is encouraged to wear red shoes as a sign of their support for everyone living with FASD. Join in, take a picture and post to your socials with #RedShoesRock and #FASDAwareness.

Red Shoes Rock is a global awareness campaign giving voice and support to those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure Building FASD Awareness Through Grassroots Efforts. Find ot how you can support this here.

Talk about FASD

Here are some suggested tweets to share on your social media channels:

It's #FASDAwarenessDay. You cannot see FASD, it's a hidden disability. Post a picture of you wearing red shoes. Red Shoes are the international symbol for FASD. @sunflwrlanyards 

Today is #FASDAwarenessDay when the world comes together to raise awareness of the hurdles that people living with FASD face every day. @sunflwrlanyards speaks to one of their wearers about FASD 

What do you really know about FASD? @sunflwrlanyards speak to one of their wearers about FASD for #FASDAwarenessDay

Share your FASD story

While it’s easy to feel that your story can’t possibly make a meaningful difference, the truth is that it can influence individuals and the wider community. Whether you or someone you care about is autistic and wears the Sunflower, you can empower others and encourage people to support them by sharing your experience.

Check out the Sunflower Conversations and if they have an impact on you, share them with your friends and family.

If you want to share your experience, get in touch with us by emailing us here.


FASD Ireland

FASD Ireland was established in September 2021 to be the 'go to' hub for everyone living with FASD, including families, carers, teachers and the wider community across Ireland. 

We will work tirelessly to challenge and lobby Government to legislate and implement practical strategies that will reduce and prevent FASD in Ireland. FASD is Ireland's most preventable neuro-developmental disability. 

FASD Ireland is committed to raising awareness of FASD across the country, to break down barriers and be a catalyst for everyone with FASD to be able to live the life they strive for. 

FASD Ireland will be a loud voice and persistent advocate for people living with FASD. We want to "Get Ireland talking about FASD" and will work with all stakeholders to ensure that FASD is considered and respected in every walk of life. 

For more information, please go to the website: