Calls for more foetal alcohol syndrome awareness

Written by Sandile Mbili

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 extreme 

High rate

François Grobbelaar, founder of FASfacts, said the reason for the high rate of FASD in South Africa is because of 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 life-long 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 one or two glass of wine is fine. It is not fine. If you are pregnant you should stay away from alcohol,” Olivier said.

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.

About the author

Sandile Mbili

Sandile Mbili is an award-winning CJ based in KwaZulu Natal and has been freelancing since 2010. As a creative writer has contributed to Radio Khwezi drama department for 6 years and also wrote articles for Inkazimulo Newspaper and Daily Sun. Sandile has a Diploma in Comprehensive Writing from College SA and has completed an online course with Frety Media for Press Code. To date, he has produced 10 radio dramas and won two awards for Best Radio Drama on MTN Radio Awards 2015 and Best Educational Magazine Show at MDDA-Sanlam Media Awards 2015.