LIFESTYLE NEWS - Every pregnant woman has responsibilities towards her unborn baby. One of those is not to drink alcohol while pregnant. Not even one drink.
This plight is highlighted every year on 9 September when we commemorate World Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day (FASD). FASD refers to a range of disorders that can develop when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy.
“Communities need to step-up and educate mothers of the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Talk to your pregnant neighbour, family member or friend if they consume alcohol while pregnant.
The Western Cape Government cannot beat FASD alone. We need commitment from communities and families to curb underage drinking, tackle illegal shebeens, and encourage responsible supply by the industry. Most importantly, we call on pregnant women to take responsibility for their unborn babies and to not drink alcohol,” said Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo.
Mothers should remember that alcohol in their blood passes to their baby through the umbilical cord and can have dire consequences for the unborn baby, irrespective of the amount of alcohol consumed and in which trimester they are in.
“We see the effects first-hand in the neonatal intensive care unit. Babies are usually born with physical and mental disabilities. They might suffer from alcohol withdrawal and it has an effect on organs such as their hearts,” said Dr Els, Head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at George Hospital.
South Africa has one of the highest incidences of FASD in the world, and the Western Cape is particularly affected by the most serious of FASD, namely Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
“We see a lot of young children with developmental delays, this together with poor socio-economic circumstances is a challenge for patients”, said Desiree van der Vyver, Chief Occupational Therapist at George Hospital.
- · FAS is 100% preventable
- · FAS is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation
- · Alcohol during pregnancy causes permanent brain damage
- · There is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy
- · Even one drink risks the health of an unborn baby
- · FAS is a lifelong, invisible and irreversible disability
- · Symptoms may not become obvious until a child is 3 or 4 years old
- · FAS is found in all races and all socio-economic groups
- · There is no cure for FAS
Visit your nearest health facility for more information, or get online assistance from: http://www.fasfacts.org.za
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