Friday (September 9, 2011) is International Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Awareness Day and the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) is urging expecting mothers not to drink alcohol while pregnant.
About 25 000 babies are born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome every year in South Africa, the highest reported incidence in the world.
What is shocking is that FAS can be prevented.
There is conclusive scientific evidence that certain drinking patterns during pregnancy are associated with substantial risk of physical and psychological harm to the unborn child.
This evidence generally relates to heavy drinking, but the ARA recommends abstinence.
Caused solely by the consumption of alcohol while pregnant, FAS affects all races, genders and socio-economic groups worldwide.
With no cure, prevention is paramount.
“Harm associated with maternal drinking is preventable and can be successfully addressed through targeted approaches to policy and prevention, including education and awareness,” says ARA spokesman Adrian Botha.
For this reason, ARA facilitated the establishment of the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) in August 1996.
In an effort to educate the public, professional bodies such as FARR have issued specific recommendations around drinking while pregnant.
“Even a moderate amount of alcohol may increase the risk of miscarriage or physical and mental problems in a baby,” says CEO of FARR, Leana Olivier.
“This means that any amount of alcohol, whether taken casually or regularly while pregnant, can cause FAS. If you are pregnant, or planning to have a baby, do not take any form of alcohol.
“Just one glass of alcohol might harm your unborn child.”
In an effort to reduce the problem, ARA will invest an additional R1.8 million in FARR this year to assist the organisation in its important work.
For more information on ARA please visit their website at www.ara.co.za
In some cases signs of FAS can be identified through specific symptoms – these symptoms relate to FAS but can indicate other conditions too so always get a diagnosis from a doctor
* Low birth weight.
* Small head.
* Various birth defects affecting any of the child’s organs, such as the heart, eyes, ears, etc.
* Facial abnormalities.
* Stunted mental and physical growth.
* Irritability of the infant.
* Learning disabilities.
* Impaired fine motor skills development.
* Poor impulse control. - Daily News