South Africa, which has the
world’s highest prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), is
joining other countries to create awareness of the disorder on 9 September – International
FASD day. The message of "no alcohol while pregnant" may be simple, but health
experts say getting people to take it onboard has proved difficult.
FASD is an umbrella term
for a group of permanent, life-long and irreversible conditions caused by the
effects of alcohol on a foetus, and foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most
A lifelong disease
founder of FASfacts, said the reason for the high rate of FASD in South Africa
is a lack of knowledge about the disorder. He said there needed to
be more awareness of the condition in rural areas and on farms where “people
start drinking at an early age and don't have limits”.
Leana Olivier CEO of the Foundation
for Alcohol Related Research South Africa said women should be aware that FASD
is a lifelong disease and there is no amount of alcohol that is safe for a pregnant
woman to drink.
“Any amount of liquor can cause brain damage or physical development damage to
an unborn child. I want to plead with doctors and nurses out there to not
tell their patients that having one or two glass of wine is fine. It is not fine. If
you are pregnant you should stay away from alcohol," Olivier said. –
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